An NIA special court on Monday sentenced to death five Indian Mujahideen operatives, including Mohammed Ahmed Siddibappa alias Yasin Bhatkal, involved in the 2013 twin blasts in Hyderabad's Dilsukhnagar area, which had claimed 18 lives, and injured 131 others.
However, Yasin Bhatkal's brother, Riyaz Bhatkal, still remains at large and the NIA has issued a red corner notice for his arrest. Riyaz is allegedly the kingpin of the group and the prime conspirator in the case, according to NDTV.
The prosecution lawyer told NDTV that the NIA produced strong circumstantial evidence against the convicts in the court and the accounts of 157 witnesses, which helped in nailing down the charges against the Indian Mujahideen cadres in the terror case. He also said that the judges observed that the case fell into the rarest of the rare categories for awarding a death sentence.
Even as the convicts are likely to appeal in a higher court for relief, the NIA court's ruling is being seen as a landmark judgement as this is for the first time that top cadres of the banned Indian Mujahideen terror group have been convicted in a terror case.
"It was a wonderful investigation carried out by the team in which every evidence was examined minutely. This is the first ever conviction of Indian Mujahideen cadres," an elated Director General of NIA Sharad Kumar had said at the time of the conviction ruling.
The NIA special court had convicted Bhatkal and others under various sections of Indian Penal Code, Arms Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on 13 December.
Besides Bhatkal, the others convicted were Asadullah Akthar of Uttar Pradesh, Zia-ur-Rahman alias Waqas of Pakistan, Tahseen Akhthar of Bihar and Aizaz Shaik of Maharashtra, all of whom have been sentenced to death.
The final arguments in the case concerning the attack, carried out on 21 February, 2013 had concluded last month. Trial in the case had begun on August 24 last year.
In its chargesheet, the NIA had claimed that Indian Mujahideen had hatched a conspiracy to wage a war against India and decided to carry out the bomb blasts in Hyderabad to create terror in the minds of people and further the activities of the outfit.
The main operative of the module, Riyaz Bhatkal, who is named as the first accused in the case, had allegedly directed his associates Asadullah Akhtar and Waqas to find a place in Mangalore to be used as a hide-out for explosive materials sent by him, it had alleged.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Dec 19, 2016 17:59 PM