GERMAN Bakery blast convict Mirza Himayat Baig, currently lodged in Nagpur Central Prison, has again requested the Bombay High Court bench, which is hearing his plea against death penalty, to shift him to Mumbai prison or any other prison in the vicinity.
Baig made the application to the division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice S B Shukre through the Registrar of HC through a letter sent by post. Justices Patil and Shukre have directed the state prison department to file its say on Baig’s latest plea.
Speaking to Pune Newsline from family’s hometown of Beed, Himayat’s elder brother Tariq Bai said the handwritten letter was sent to the judge a few weeks ago.
“He’s lodged in Nagpur prison and is attending the hearing through video-conferencing. He requested the judges to transfer him to Mumbai’s Arthur Road Prison or any other prison like Taloja jail or Nashik jail nearer to Mumbai which would enable him to interact with his lawyers. He told the justices that although he can remain technically present for the hearings, he is not getting any opportunity to discuss his case and strategy with his lawyers. In the last two years since Pune court convicted him (in April 2013), he has studied his case thoroughly and has got a lot of inputs on specific points which he wants to be shared with his lawyers,” said Tariq.
Baig had made similar requests in the past too. In March 2014, when he was shifted from Mumbai’s Arthur Road Prison to Pune’s Yerwada Central Prison, Baig complained he was feared for his life as Qateel Siddiqui, an alleged terror operative, was murdered in the prison in 2012 by co-inmates.
In February 2015, Baig had written a letter to city-based activists alleging that he was assaulted by a co-inmate and that he “barely survived” the gruesome attack. Following this, the HC bench directed the prison department to shift him out of the Yerwada Prison. The department shifted him to Nagpur prison saying only two prisons in the state housed convicts, in Pune and Nagpur. They said that although it’s far from Mumbai where Baig’s case is being heard, he could attend the hearing using the video-conferencing facility.
Advocate Ishrat Ali Khan, part of the team defending Baig in the High Court, said Baig’s plea would be decided by the bench next week.
“It’s a genuine concern raised by Baig who is largely believed to be framed in a false case. The appeal is in a crucial stage now. If he wants to remain physically present in the courtroom, it’s his right. We are hoping the bench will decide on the application on Tuesday or Wednesday,” he said.
Baig was convicted by 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. The judge N P Dhote had also sentenced Baig to death while observing that the crime committed by him fell in “rarest of rare” category. His role, however, came under a cloud after the arrest of alleged IM operative Yasin Bhatkal in August 2013. Bhatkal has reportedly told investigating agencies that the terror attack in Pune was carried out by him with the help of slain terror suspect Qateel Siddiqui.