Five key operatives of Indian Mujahideen, including the banned terror outfit’s co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and a Pakistani national, were on 19 December awarded death penalty by a Special NIA Court here in the February 2013 Hyderabad bomb blasts which claimed 18 lives.
Pronouncing the sentence, Judge T Srinivasa Rao described the case as the “rarest of the rare”.
This is the first case where operatives of the home-grown group have been convicted in a terror case.
NIA Special Public Prosecutor K Surender said the court, after going through their evidence, found that the case is based on facts.
“As per investigation…evidence that is placed on record clearly reflects that the five IM members planned and executed the bomb blasts. We sought capital punishment (for the convicts) and accordingly the court gave death penalty to them,” he said.
The prosecutor described the verdict as a “victory” for NIA’s investigation and the witnesses.
The court, after hearing the arguments of prosecution and defence counsels on sentencing, awarded death penalty to the convicts and also varying jail terms on different counts including, waging war against the Government of India and commission of terrorist act.
On December 13, the court had convicted the five operatives — IM co-founder Mohd Ahmed Sidibapa alias Yasin Bhatkal, Pakistani national Zia-ur-Rahman alias Waqas, Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi, Tahaseen Akhtar alias Monu and Ajaz Shaikh — who are at present in judicial custody and lodged in the Cherlapally Central Prison here.
The IM convicts said they will go for an appeal, according to the NIA counsel.
All relevant records will be submitted in the high court for confirmation of the death sentence, Surender said.
Eighteen people were killed and 131 injured in two deadly explosions in Dilsukhnagar, a crowded shopping area in the city, on February 21, 2013.
On November 7, the final arguments had concluded in the case before the special court.
Since IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal, the prime accused in the case, is absconding, the trial was split up against him.
The court convicted Yasin Bhatkal and others under various sections of Indian Penal Code, Arms Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
According to NIA, Riyaz Bhatkal arranged for explosive substances and directed Asadullah Akhtar and Zia-ur-Rahman at Mangalore to receive the same.