Court convicts 2 in Hyderabad twin blasts case

Hyderabad: Nearly 11 years after twin blasts in Hyderabad killed 44 people and injured 68 others, a local court has found two of five accused guilty.

Two others were acquitted while the judgement in case of another accused was postponed to Monday next.

Second Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge T. Srinivas Rao, who pronounced the verdict in a makeshift court at Charalapally Central Prison, convicted two accused — Anique Shafeeq Sayeed and Akbar Esmail Choudhary — and acquitted Farooq Sharfuddin Tarkash and Sadiq Israr Shaikh.

However the fate of Tariq Anjum, who was charged with giving shelter to the other accused will be known on Monday.

The judge said the quantum of punishment for the two convicts will also be announced on the same day. Two improvised explosive devices exploded in the crowded Lumbini Park, near the state secretariat and Gokul Chat Bhandar in Kothi on the evening of August 25, 2007.

Another IED was found in time and defused under an overpass at Dilsukhnagar bus stop.

The counter-intelligence cell of Hyderabad police had investigated the case.

The accused, allegedly belonging to the Indian Mujahideen group, were arrested with the help of Maharashtra police in 2009 and the charge sheet was filed in 2013 against five for murder and violation of explosives substances act.

The prosecution named two other accused Riyaz Bhatkal and Iqbal Bhatkal, who remain absconding.

During the nearly five year trial, 160 witnesses were examined in the court.

Defence counsel M.A. Azeem said the evidence produced against Sadiq and Farooq was circumstantial and the witnesses were found by the investigators one year after the incident.

However the two acquitted persons were unlikely to be released from their nine year long imprisonment as jail authorities say they will have to send them to Mumbai where they are accused in other bomb blast cases.

The prosecution alleged that operatives of the Indian Mujahideen had carried out the blasts to avenge the Makkah Masjid bomb blast of May 18, 2007, which killed six worshippers.

Prosecutors argued Anique Shafeeq Sayeed had planted the bomb at Lumbini Park under a seat before a laser show and Riyaz Bhatkal was responsible for planting the bomb at Gokul Chat Bhandar, a crowded eatery.

The third bomb, which failed to explode, was left behind by Esmail Choudhary. While 12 people died and 21 were injured in the blast at Lumbini Park, 32 people died and 47 were injured in the second blast at Gokul Chat. The bombs were timed to go one after the other within a short duration.

The prosecution said that a criminal conspiracy hatched by Riyaz, Iqbal, Anique and Amir Raza Khan to carry out the blast as they believed that Mecca Masjid blast was carried out by the Hindutva groups.

The greater part of the trial was conducted by Judge S. Radhakrishna Murthy. After the judge was arrested by the anti-corruption bureau, Srinivas Rao took the charge of the court and continued the hearing.

The incident had plunged the city into fear and shock as the city had already seen another blast at crowded Mecca Masjid during Friday congregation only three months earlier.

CBI and NIA who had probed the Makkah Masjid blast had arrested members of right Hindu groups but the NIA court in Hyderabad acquitted them in April 2018.

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