A special National Investigation Agency (NIA
) court in Patna on Friday sentenced all five convicts in the Bodh Gaya
serial bomb blasts case of July 7, 2013 to life in prison. The court, which pronounced the verdict last week, had to defer the pronouncement of quantum of sentence owing to defence’s persistent efforts to delay the proceedings.
The court of additional district judge Manoj Kumar Sinha awarded the punishment to all five Indian Mujahideen militants — Umer Siddiqui (39), Azaharuddin Qureshi (25), Imtiyaz Ansari alias alam (35), Haider Ali alias Black Beauty (30) and Mujibullah Ansari (28). They were held guilty under IPC sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 153A (promoting enmity among different groups on grounds of religion, sect and place of birth) and various provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Explosive Substances Act.
On friday, the court convicted all the five accused. As many as 90 witnesses were examined during the trial. The convicted five were also involved in the Gandhi Maidan serial blasts during the Hunkar Rally of the then prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in Patna on October 27, 2013.
“The convicts were members of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). They also had connections with Indian Mujahideen,”
the special Public Prosecutor Lalan Prasad Sinha said last week at the time of conviction.
Thirteen improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were planted inside and around the Mahabodhi Mahavihara, out of which ten had exploded. Five persons, including two Buddhist monks, were injured in the blasts.
Four IEDs had exploded in and around the shrine, including one near the Bodhi tree, while six went off in its one kilometre radius. Sources said one of the IEDs was planted below an ambulance for inflicting maximum damage.
The special Public Prosecutor said another accused Taufique Ansari, who was also involved in the Bodh Gaya and Patna blasts, was a juvenile at the time of the crime
. “Being a juvenile at that time, his case was transferred to the juvenile justice board (JJB), which had sentenced him to three years imprisonment on October 11, 2017,”
Another person to have been involved in the Bodh Gaya case was one Tariq Ansari, 24. However, he had died while activating a bomb inside a public convenience at Patna Junction just before the Gandhi Maidan rally, special Public Prosecutor Sinha said.
“Haider and Mujibullah were the masterminds of Bodh Gaya blasts. Explosive materials and the temple’s sketch with markings were recovered from Eram Lodge in Ranchi where the duo had stayed. The IEDs were planted at the places marked,” Sinha said.
It was contended on behalf of defence lawyer Surya Prakash Singh that the NIA had failed to produce CCTV footage and that a security guard, who was present at one of the sites when the explosions took place had failed to recognize any of the accused.
The contention was repudiated by public prosecutor Lalan Prasad Sinha who pointed towards the association of all the accused in terrorist activities and statements recorded by as many as 90 witnesses during trial, wherein it was placed on record that the blasts had been carried out to avenge alleged atrocities on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar by the Buddhist majority.