Alleged terror operative Mirza Himayat Inayat Baig was on Monday found guilty in the German Bakery blast case. Baig,a 33-year-old from Maharashtras Beed district,is the only person to have been arrested for the February 13,2010 bombing in which 17 people were killed and 58 injured.
The court has held you guilty for murder,attempt to murder,hatching criminal conspiracy… These crimes attract extreme punishment, additional sessions judge N P Dhote said.
Baig has been found guilty under IPC Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy),302 (murder),307 (attempt to murder) 435 (mischief by explosive with intent to cause damage),474 (possessing forged documents),153A (promoting enmity between groups on grounds of religion),and various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Explosive Substances Act.
Special public prosecutor Raja Thakre,who examined 103 witnesses in the case,said after the verdict that Baig had been convicted under five sections that attract the death penalty.
Arguments to decide the quantum of punishment will take place on April 18. Defence counsel A Rehman said,I will argue for leniency on the basis of his young age,and that there is ample scope for reformation.
The Maharashtra ATS had claimed to have arrested Baig from Pulgate in Pune on September 7,2010. The ATS chargesheet,filed that December,named six more persons as accused,including alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives Riyaz Bhatkal,Iqbal Bhatkal and Yasin Bhatkal,Mohsin Choudhary of Pune,and alleged LeT operatives Fayyaz Kagzi and Zabiuddin Ansari alias Zabi,both from Beed.
Zabiuddin Ansari was arrested in June 2012 after he was deported from Saudi Arabia. He is believed to be one of the Lashkar handlers in the 26/11 control room in Karachi,whom Ajmal Kasab knew as Abu Jundal. The other five men are at large.
As per the chargesheet,Yasin and Mohsin,under instructions from Riyaz and Iqbal,met Baig in Udgir in January 2010 to finalise the plan to plant a bomb in German Bakery. Baig allegedly recced the target on January 31,2010. Yasin and Mohsin allegedly met Baig again in Udgir in the first week of February.
According to the ATS chargesheet,Yasin and Mohsin assembled the bomb with help from Baig at Udgirs Global Internet Cafe between 1 am and 5 pm on February 7.
The conspiracy to bomb the bakery was hatched in Colombo two years earlier,says the chargesheet. Baig,who was allegedly the LeT commander for Maharashtra,met Kagzi and Ansari in the Sri Lankan capital in March 2008,where the diabolic design to cause further terrorist activities was finalised,the ATS said. According to the ATS,Kagzi and Ansari taught Baig how to build and set off an explosive device.
On February 13,Baig and Yasin allegedly carried the bomb in a private vehicle from Udgir to Latur,and then in a state transport bus to Pune. They allegedly hired an autorickshaw from Pulgate bus stand to Pune railway station,and then took another auto to Central Mall.
Yasin planted the bomb in a haversack at the bakery around 5 pm and triggered it with the help of a mobile triggering device at 6.50 pm, the chargesheet said.
Lawyers for Baig questioned the ATSs theory.
The ATS did not visit Colombo. ATS did not take any prior permission from the central government,which was necessary for the trial of an Indian citizen who commits an offence in a foreign country, Rahman said.
Another defence lawyer,Kaynat Shaikh,argued that Baigs passport shows that he had visited Colombo. From this ATS concluded that he went to Colombo for terror training. But Baig had gone to Colombo for job search and returned to India in less that two weeks as he could not find any work there.
The defence counsel also pointed out that during cross-examination,investigating officer Vinod Satav,an assistant commissioner of police who is now retired,had conceded that he had no evidence or witnesses for the alleged meeting between Baig,Yasin and Mohsin at Global Internet Cafe in Udgir.
On Monday,Satav said,The investigation was a team effort. The constant support from ATS personnel of all ranks made the conviction possible. There is a lot more to do in the case.
The owner of German Bakery,Snehal Kharose,said,We are happy that justice has been delivered speedily in this case. We hope that the harshest possible punishment will be given.
Pravin Ramkumar Pant,who was the bakery manager at the time of the blast,and who lodged the first information report,could not be traced by the investigators.
In November 2012,Delhi Police had arrested alleged Indian Mujahideen operative Mohammed Qateel Siddiqui,who they said had recced German Bakery along with Yasin Bhatkal. But Siddiqui,who was later murdered by Pune gangster Sharad Mohol at Yerwada jail,was never made an accused in the German Bakery case. Baig had refused identify Siddiqui.