A Haryana local court awarded life imprisonment to alleged Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) bomb expert Abdul Karim alias Tunda on Tuesday in the 1996 Sonipat bomb blasts case. A penalty of Rs 1 lakh has also been imposed on the convict.
On Monday, the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge, Sonipat, Dr Sushil Garg, convicted Tunda under Sections 307 (attempt to murder) and 120 B (conspiracy) of the IPC. He was also convicted under section 3 of the Explosives Act. Tunda’s lawyer Ashish Vats said they would challenge the district court’s verdict before the High Court.
Tunda, 75, was among the 20 terrorists that India had asked Pakistan to hand over after the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, believed to be the brainchild of LeT and Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed. Tunda was arrested by the Delhi Police from Banbasa near the India-Nepal border on August 16, 2013 and is suspected to have been involved in 40 blast cases across the country.
Two bombs went off at different locations in Sonipat on December 28, 1996. While nobody had died in the blasts, around 15 persons were injured. A case against unidentified people was registered at the City Police Station, Sonipat, on the complaint of one Sajjan Singh.
Tunda of Ghaziabad, Mohammad Shakeel Ahmed of Uttar Pradesh’s Pillakhuwa town and Mohammad Amir Khan of Delhi were identified as accused in the case after an investigation. Khan and Ahmed were arrested in 1998 but were let off in 2002 for want of evidence.
In the course of the trial, as many as 43 witnesses appeared in the court. Tunda had pleaded during the trial that he was in Pakistan at the time of the blasts. “After the Mumbai blasts of 1993, Tunda’s home at Ghaziabad was searched. Out of fear, he had gone to Pakistan,” Vats said.