India: Special Court Convicts 12 in ’06 Mumbai Bombings

Amin Ahmad

2015-09-11
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150911-IN-mumbai-620 Indian rescue workers search for bodies inside a bombed compartment at the Mahim railway station in Mumbai, July 11, 2006.
AFP

A special court is expected to sentence a dozen men on Monday to death or life imprisonment for their alleged roles in serial bombings of commuter trains in the Mumbai area in July 2006, which killed 189 people and injured more than 800.

On Friday, Y.D. Shinde, special judge of the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA) court, convicted the 12 defendants of charges including murder, plotting a conspiracy and waging war against the nation, The Indian Express newspaper reported.

A 13th defendant, Abdul Wahid Din Mohammed Sheikh, was acquitted for lack of evidence, according to news reports. The Mumbai resident had been accused of sheltering people in his house, who were part of the plot.

“The accused persons charged with murder, conspiracy and waging war against the country deserve the maximum sentence possible, and that could even be the death sentence in the eyes of law,” Sushant Kumar Thakur, a Supreme Court lawyer, told BenarNews on Friday.

“Life imprisonment in itself would be an exemplary punishment for the convicts, who, according to the prosecution, knowingly unleashed a bloodbath on that evening,” he added.

The seven coordinated bombings targeting trains in and around Mumbai collectively marked India’s second deadliest terrorist attack next to the 1993 serial bombings, which also took place in the Indian financial capital. That attack left 257 people dead and more than 700 others hurt.

Mumbai was targeted a third time, when 10 gunmen launched an assault on the city that began on Nov. 26, 2008, and stretched over days, leaving 166 people dead.

Pakistani militants are widely suspected of having had a hand in all three attacks.

On July 30, Yakub Memon, who was convicted for the March 12, 1993, attacks, was executed in Nagpur, Maharashtra.

According to Agence France-Presse, a total of 30 people were charged in connection with the train bombings in 2006. But while 13 were prosecuted, 17 others, including four Indians and 13 Pakistanis, remain at large, AFP reported.

The trial of the 13 suspects took eight years, during which more than 200 witnesses testified. But it took the judge more than a year to hand down the verdicts, after the trial ended in August 2014.

‘Unpardonable crime’

The attacks on the trains unfolded within an 11-minute span on the night of July 11, 2006, as commuters were heading home from their jobs in Mumbai’s financial district.

According to news reports, the bombs were packed into seven pressure cookers hidden beneath newspapers and umbrellas inside the trains’ first-class compartments.

Reacting to the news of Friday’s convictions, many residents of Mumbai were calling for the 12 convicts to be sent to the gallows for their alleged crimes.

“The terrorists should be hanged till death for killing nearly 200 people, including women and children, in cold blood,” Bhushan Kumar, a civil engineer from Maharashtra, told BenarNews.

“Many were disabled for life due to the serial blasts. The court must take into account the unpardonable crime they committed on innocent civilians, only to create terror in the hearts and minds of people,” he added.

Mohammad Hanief, a baker from Bandra town in Mumbai, agreed that the 12 should be put to death. This, he said, would deter others from repeating “such a heinous crime.”

“Violence has no place in Islam, and these so-called Muslims targeted innocent people, including women and children, for their vested interests,” Hanief, a Muslim, told BenarNews.

“I appeal to the judiciary to award them punishment by death so that eternal peace is granted to the slain people.”

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