Kolkata: A special NIA court on Friday awarded varying jail terms to 19 people, including four Bangladeshi nationals, in the Khagragarh blast case, in which links of terror group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) were found. Of those sentenced, two are women.
All the 19 convicts, out of a total 31 accused in the case, had admitted their guilt in the blast in a house at Khagragarh in Burdwan district of West Bengal on 2 October, 2014. They were convicted for conspiracy and waging war against the country and under various provisions of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) apart from the Explosives Act and the Arms Act against some of them.
Bombs and improvised explosive devices were being manufactured in the rented two-storied house when the blast occurred, killing two persons engaged in the work. Out of the 19 sentenced, four Bangladeshis were awarded 10 years' rigorous imprisonment and would be sent back to their country following completion of sentence, Siddhartha Kanjilal, chief judge at City Sessions Court, presiding over the special NIA court, ordered.
The two women and a young man, who claimed to be a student, were sentenced to six years' rigorous imprisonment. The rest 12 convicts were sentenced to varying terms from 8 years to 10 years in prison. Trial of the remaining 12 accused in the case would continue, National Investigation Agency (NIA) lawyer Shyamal Ghosh said.
Judge Kanjilal told the convicts that since they have admitted their guilt, they cannot appeal against their conviction and can only challenge the quantum of sentence awarded to them before the Calcutta High Court.
The court also sentenced the four Bangladeshi nationals - Sheikh Rahamatullah, Mohd Rubel, Tariqul and Habibur Rahaman - to three years in prison under Foreigners' Act and Passport Act. Considering that they have young children, the court sentenced Gulsana Bibi and Alima Bibi to six years rigorous imprisonment.
All the 19 were also fined Rs 20,000 each. The prison terms will run concurrently for each of them, the court directed.
The in-camera trial proceedings in the case were held for one-and-a half years before they were convicted by the court on 28 August, another NIA counsel Debasish Mallick Chowdhury said. According to the NIA counsels, the accused were "indirectly or directly involved with the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh and aimed to destabilise the Bangladeshi government by trying to utilise Indian soil".
The accidental blast at the house in Khagragarh killed two suspected terrorists and injured a third while they were making bombs.
The NIA had filed the primary charge sheet in the case in March, 2015, in which it said there was a "conspiracy of JMB, a proscribed terrorist organisation in Bangladesh, to overthrow the existing democratic government in Bangladesh through violent terrorist acts".
The investigation into the case was first taken up by the West Bengal CID and was transferred to the NIA within a few days.
Updated Date: Aug 31, 2019 00:02:34 IST