Human Rights

Lajpat Nagar blast verdict: gallows for three

New Delhi: Two Kashmiris and one Delhi resident were awarded death penalty in a 14-year-old bomb blast case by the Delhi High Court on 22 April 2010. The blast had taken place at the crowded area of Lajpat Nagar in the capital in which 13 people were killed and 38 injured. All the convicts are said to be members of the banned militant outfit “Jammu and Kashmir Islamic Front” (JKIF).
 
Lajpat Nagar blast convicts - L/R: Mohammad Ali Bhatt, Mohammad Naushad and Mirza Nisar Husain

District and Sessions Judge S.P. Garg awarded Mohammad Naushad, Mohammad Ali Bhat and Mirza Nissar Hussain death sentence which is subject to confirmation by the Delhi High Court. While pronouncing the quantum of punishment, the judge observed: “The convicts do not deserve to be dealt with a lenient view. It was the most dastardly act, the convicts indulged in the killing of innocent people without any provocation.” Their accomplice Javid Ahmad Khan, a Kashmiri from Nowpora in Srinagar, was awarded rigorous life imprisonment. The four were convicted by the Court on April 8 for serious offences like murder, attempt to murder and conspiracy.

While demanding severe punishment against convicts  Additional Public Prosecutor S.K. Dass had demanded maximum sentence against Farooq and Farida who were held guilty under milder penal provisions of the Explosive Substances Act and the Arms Act.

Arguing on behalf of other five convicts, defense lawyer Khalil Ansari said the case did not fall under the rarest of rare category, which warranted capital punishment. He said that almost all the convicts were teenagers at the time of the incident and could be reformed.

The Court, after hearing arguments on the quantum of sentence on 13 April 2010, had deferred the matter for pronouncement of order on 17 April and again on 22 April 2010.

The award of death sentence to the two Kasmiris evoked strong reaction in their home state, J&K. Both the moderate and hardliner factions of Harriyat conference called for protest against the decision which was observed on Friday, 23 April when the Valley observed an strike. “Our boys are being implicated,” said Syed Ali Shah Geelani, chairman of hardliner faction of Hurriyat conference. Chairman of the moderate faction of Hurriyat Mirwaiz Maulvi Omar Farooq said, “The decision is biased.They are using Court against Kashmiris.”

Peoples Democratic Party president said that “it was encouraging that there was a countrywide debate on the approach towards Maoist extremism, but in contrast, the Kashmir problem is being addressed only through force and bureaucratic disposal.” JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik condemned the sentence and asked the civil society to protest against it. Families of the convicts said that they will challenge the verdict in higher courts. (Majid Jahangir)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 May 2010 on page no. 11

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