A city court sentenced two persons for plotting to attack the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC), the Oil and Natural Gas (ONGC) installation and several other locations in Mumbai, to 12 years and 10 years in prison respectively, on Friday.
Abdul Latif (36) and Riyaz Ali Imtiyaz (30) were handed the sentences by sessions judge Sanjay V. Patil a day after he convicted them for conspiring to commit a terrorist act under section 18 of the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
The duo, who are brothers-in-law, were arrested by Maharashtra Anti Terror Squad in March 2010 after intelligence agencies picked up conversations they had with an individual in Karachi, Pakistan to plan the attack.
Abdul Latif, a hawker, lived in Behmrampada in Bandra East, while Riyaz was employed at Thakkar Mall in Borivali as a salesman and lived in Dahisar. The ATS claimed during the arrest that ten litres of petrol had been found in their possession, which the men had planned to use in the attack.
Special public prosecutor Rohini Salian argued for maximum punishment of life imprisonment as the charges are “very grave in nature.”
Lawyers for the duo appealed for the sentence to be reduced as they have both already been in prison for five years, the minimum punishment prescribed by section 18.
Abdul Latif also filed an application before the court stating that his wife Nusrat (33), was diagnosed with mouth cancer four months ago.
“We were expecting a death penalty or life imprisonment. But informing the court about the cancer helped get a lesser punishment,” said Abdul Latif’s father Abdul Rashid.
Riyqaz’s lawyer argued that his career was at stake and that “no specific role had been assigned to him, before pointing out he had already been in jail for 5 years and 10 months”. Riyaz’s brother Faarooque Mapkar said the families had accepted the verdict but would appeal in the Bombay High Court.
“We are relieved the court did not announce the maximum punishment. No evidence was ever found by police to prove they had been a planning an attack. The ATS has framed them,” he claimed.
Throughout the hour-long arguments, the duo stood before the judge with folded hands. Later, Abdul Latif said, “…Which petrol pump would sell us ten litres of petrol? And even if we had purchased it, how would we have set fire to high-security buildings like BARC and the ONGC with only ten litres of petrol?”