Feroz Abdul Rashid Khan, one of the six convicts in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts who now faces a maximum punishment of death, pleaded before the court Tuesday for leniency. Khan stepped into the witness box in the afternoon, to lead evidence on mitigating circumstances in his favour. Speaking for almost an hour, a teary-eyed Khan said he would spend his entire life in prison without parole or furlough, while pleading not to be given the capital punishment. The CBI has submitted that it would be seeking the maximum punishment for all six convicts.
“I do not belong where I am. The offences the court has convicted me for are punishable by death. Main jail mey apni life nikalunga. Aap parole, furlough mat dena. But, please do not give me the death penalty so that my children know I am alive,” Khan said, pleading with folded hands and crying. Khan is the only one among the six convicts so far who is leading evidence in his support before the court decides on the quantum of punishment. On Wednesday, Khan will bring two co-inmates from Taloja central prison to depose in his support.
Earlier, Khan entered the witness box and requested the court for permission to sit. After a stool was provided to him, a court official put Khan under oath for the deposition. During the trial, Khan had claimed that he was not Feroz but Hamza Khan and was not connected to the case. Special Judge G A Sanap asked him if there was any doubt still left about the name, since it had already ruled that Feroz was not Hamza while convicting him. Khan said the court official had asked him his address to which he had responded that it was Taloja central prison.
Advocate Wahab Khan then began examining Khan as a witness. Khan, who was arrested on February 5, 2010, said he had completed his Class 12 examination, a human rights course, an exam on Mahatma Gandhi and a basic language course in Arabic. He also said he was one year away from completing his graduation. He also told the court that he was 40 when he was arrested and at that time had his parents, wife and two children as dependents. He said he became heavily indebted after the arrest because he had to discontinue his business.
“I have been in incarceration for over seven years. My children still do not know where I am. They know that I exist somewhere and that one day their father will come back,” he told the court. He further said his wife had to take up a job as a henna artist to sustain the family. On his conduct in prison, Khan said over the years he had helped 8-10 inmates in learning basic English and others file applications including bail pleas for undertrials. He said the fact that he had given a confession and had sought to become an approver in the case last year showed that he had “remorse and repentance”.