THE defence in the Pune German Bakery blast, two days into the argument that samples of an explosive substance collected from the explosion site and the house of lone convict Himayat Baig did not match, told the Bombay High Court that the prosecution had failed to prove the house was Baig’s ‘thikana’.
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“There is a public witness whose statement the police recorded and he has stated that he lived with Baig in a room in a Masjid. The prosecution has not established that the accused lived in that house. The police have not even questioned the owner of the house in Udgir,” said Baig’s counsel Mehamood Pracha. The witness said police made inquiries with Sheikh Abdul Rehman Sheikh, as his ATM card was found with Baig.
“Sheikh recorded with the police that he has known the accused closely since 2006. The two lived in a Masjid in Udgir in 2008 and started an internet cafe that the witness mostly looked after. Then, according to the witness’ statement, Baig moved to Jama Masjid and when he had no place to stay, he lived with Baig in the room inside the Masjid,” said Pracha.
‘White house’ is a one-storey house with seven rooms in Udgir from where explosives were found inside a room on the first floor where Baig is believed to have lived on rent for a few months.
“One of the other public witnesses, a tenant in the same house, recorded with the police that Baig came to the house in March 2010 and by the end of May 2010, stopped coming home. Hence, this public witness 92 kept aside two of Baig’s bags and gave it to police when the latter asked for it,”
Pracha said. According to witness’ statement, police asked for the two bags, a briefcase and a khaki shoulder bag. “The black briefcase had more than 50 documents and a khaki shoulder bag had a few pairs of clothes. The investigation reveals there are two opinions of where Baig lived, one in the Masjid and the other at the ‘white house’,” Pracha added.
The defence pointed out serious doubts of accessibility of anyone to the room of Baig, where someone could have “planted the explosive substances”. The judges did remark that accessibility to others has not been proven. “If he was not residing there, the room would stay latched,” said Justice N H Patil.
Justices N H Patil and S B Shukre were hearing Baig’s appeal against his death sentence. Baig was convicted by a Pune Sessions Court for “masterminding” a blast in a popular eatery, German Bakery in Koregaon Park, in February 2010, which killed 17 people and injured several others.