Hyderabad twin blasts: Two sentenced to death, one gets life term

[File] Twelve people died and 21 were injured in the blast at the open air theatre at Lumbini Park in Hyderabad in 2007 | PTI

A Hyderabad metropolitan court Monday sentenced two terrorists, convicted of killing 44 people and wounding 68 others in two coordinated blasts here in 2007, to death.

The court also convicted another person of harbouring the perpetrators in the national capital and other places, and awarded him life imprisonment.

The special court set up inside the Cherlapalli Central Prison here heard the arguments of the prosecution and defence counsel on the quantum of sentence and awarded death penalty to Aneeq Shafique Sayeed and Mohammed Akbar Ismail Chowdhari.

On September 4, Second Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge (in-charge) T Srinivas Rao had pronounced Sayeed and Chowdhari guilty in the 11-year-old case, but acquitted Farooq Sharfuddin Tarkash and Mohammed Sadiq Israr Ahmed Shaik for want of sufficient evidence.

Sayeed and Chawdhari, who were sentenced to death, were found guilty under section 302 (murder) and other relevant provisions of the IPC, and anti-terror law—Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Special Public Prosecutor C. Seshu Reddy, who represented the counter intelligence wing of Telangana Police, which investigated the case, said.

According to another Public Prosecutor K. Surender, Aneeq and Chowdhari were found guilty of carrying out the blasts at Gokul Chaat and Lumbini Park, and also in connection with the recovery of an unexploded bomb from under a foot overbridge in Dilsukh Nagar area.

The court also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on the duo under different counts.

The court held the fifth accused Tarik Anjum, charged with harbouring some of the perpetrators in New Delhi and other places, on Monday, and handed him life imprisonment.

Two synchronised blasts had rocked Gokul Chaat, a popular eatery, killing 32 people and leaving 47 injured, and an open air theatre in Lumbini Park close to the state secretariat where 12 people died and 21 wounded.

Three other accused named in the charge sheets, including 'Indian Mujahideen' founder Riyaz Bhatkal, his brother Iqbal, and Amir Reza Khan are absconding.

The Bhatkal brothers of Karnataka are believed to have taken shelter in Pakistan.

During the arguments on the quantum of punishment, the convicts pleaded innocence and insisted they were falsely implicated in the case, the prosecutors said, adding the judge rejected their pleas to reduce their sentence.

The convicts are free to appeal against their sentence in a higher court.

Reddy said the prosecutors will take a call on whether to appeal the acquittal of two accused after going through the detailed order of the court.

The prosecution, he said, could not conclusively prove the charge that those convicted belonged to the banned Indian Mujahideen. The court, however, accepted the prosecution's contention that they had formed a group and committed terrorist acts.

In December 2016, five alleged operatives of Indian Mujahideen, including the terror outfit's co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and a Pakistani national, were awarded death penalty by a special NIA court here in the February 2013 Hyderabad bomb blasts which claimed 18 lives.