A special NIA court here today convicted five Indian Mujahideen militants in the 2013 Bodh Gaya serial blasts case in which several people including Buddhist monks were injured.
Special NIA judge Manoj Kumar Sinha held all the five accused – Imtiyaz Ansari, Haider Ali, Mujib Ullah, Omair Siddiqui and Azharuddin Qureishi – guilty in the case under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, Unlawful Activity (Prevention) Act and the Explosives Act.
The court fixed May 31 as the date for pronouncement of the quantum of sentence.
The world-renowned Buddhist pilgrim town of Bodh Gaya was rocked by a series of explosions on the morning of July 7, 2013, which left a number of people, including some Buddhist monks, injured.
A sixth accused in the case – Taufiq Ahmed – was less than 18 years of age and sentenced to three years in remand home by a juvenile court last year which found him guilty of involvement in the case.
All the six accused have also been associated with the banned organisation SIMI and are facing trial in the Patna blasts case of October, 2013 when the historic Gandhi Maidan here was rocked by explosions while an election rally of Narendra Modi, then the Gujarat Chief Minister and the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate, was underway.
Hailing the court order, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said, "Those involved in terrorist activities have no religion or creed. They deserve stern punishment and we hope the court would do the same when it announces the quantum of sentence." "We are hopeful that the accused in the Patna blasts case would be similarly brought to justice," he said.
Defence lawyer Surya Prakash Singh contended that the NIA had failed to produce CCTV footage and a security guard, who was present at one of the sites when the explosions took place had failed to recognise any of the accused.
However, the contention was repudiated by public prosecutor Lalan Prasad Sinha who pointed towards the association of all the accused in terrorist activities and statements recorded by as many as 90 witnesses during trial, wherein it was placed on record that the blasts had been carried out to avenge the alleged atrocities on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar by the Buddhist majority.
The National Investigating Agency succeeded in convincing the court that the accused were guilty. Lots of evidences, forensic and circumstantial, were placed before the court during trial and witnesses produced from various parts of the country and even abroad, Sinha told reporters.
Defence counsel Surya Prakash Singh said, "The court pronounced its judgement as per its wisdom though we had raised some important objections. We will appeal against the order before the Patna High Court."
Meanwhile, the NIA also filed a charge sheet in a Delhi court against suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba operative Sheikh Abdul Naeem and nine others for allegedly preparing to revive the terror outfit's activities in India on the directions of Pakistan-based handlers.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) filed the final report before the court of District Judge Poonam A Bamba, naming ten persons, five of whom have been arrested, while five were absconding.
The charge sheet also names two persons who have turned approvers.
The accused were charged under various sanctions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Passport Act, Aadhaar Act and Arms Act.