A CLOSED circuit television (CCTV) timer shows 6:52:14 pm. Soon, there is a loud thud, shocked people run for cover and a pandemonium prevails. The Bombay High Court was Tuesday shown what happened at Pune’s German Bakery moments before and after the explosion on February 13, 2010, which left 17 people dead and several injured. The videos also showed the movements of a man, who the prosecution claimed was Yasin Bhatkal.
The court has been hearing the prosecution’s arguments seeking confirmation of the death sentence awarded to Himayat Baig, the lone convict in the case, on a day-to-day basis. On Tuesday, the court was shown three recordings — from a set of videograbs that form part of the investigation. The first video recording began with the aftermath of the attack. It showed a board reading “A Lane” hanging amid the debris. It was dark and one could see policemen wading through all the rubble, looking for any clue.
A beam of light then fell on the dimly-lit corner where the explosion took place. Public prosecutor Raja Thakare pointed out to the court fragments of what must have been a tin roof that lay on the ground, even as a half-ripped board, with only “ery” of the “Bakery” written on it remaining, hung outside the building.
The prosecutor pointed then to the corner of a yellow wall inside the bakery that had the “maximum impact”. This portion of the wall had cracked open a semi-circular hole, allowing one to see what was on the other side.
Justices Naresh H Patil and S B Shukre asked when were the videos shot, to which Thakare said, “At the time of panchnama.”
The second video recording was from a CCTV placed diagonally opposite the blast site. It showed four cars parked on the same side of the lane where the camera was recording. The opposite road was a busy one with bustling traffic. The CCTV’s reach was till the point where a couple of autorickshaws were parked right outside the bakery.
Thakare said the drivers of the two autos had been examined. The footage showed the time as 6:52:14 pm when the camera experienced a trembling thud, with terror-stricken people running. As the judges asked the technicians to rewind the scene, Baig sat in his cell carefully witnessing the proceedings through video-conferencing, albeit with an expressionless face.
The third recording showed the German Bakery from inside before the blasts. There were 15-20 customers, and among them was seen a middle-aged lanky man wearing a field cap with a rucksack on the back and a black shoulder bag. At 4.54 pm, he placed an order at the counter and went to the delivery counter to collect it. At 5:29:30 on the footage, the same man carrying one bag on his shoulder was noticed walking out of the bakery. This was recorded by a CCTV placed right outside the bakery.
The man, the prosecution pointed a red-laser beam on the screen and said, was Yasin Bhatkal, the founder of the outlawed Indian Mujahideen.
The court then asked about the victims, and disturbing photos of injured people appeared on the screen. Once the recordings were shown, the prosecutor read the statement of one of the witnesses who was inside the bakery between 5 and 5.50 pm — during the time the man alleged to be Bhatkal was also present there. The witness, who was with his girlfriend, said in his statement he wondered why the man carried two bags inside the bakery. “He was standing behind me with two bags,” said the witness, elaborating on the man’s appearance. “The cap was of light green colour. The bag he was carrying on his back was also of the same colour. The bag on his shoulder was black,” he is supposed to have told the investigating agency. Baig was convicted by a Pune sessions court for “masterminding” the blast. The CCTV grabs shown Tuesday were a part of the prosecution’s arguments. The defence is yet to argue its case. The hearing will continue Wednesday.
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