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Lashkar involvement in blasts being probed
Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi | October 30, 2005 09:55 IST
The Union home ministry is zeroing in on the Lashkar-e-Tayiba for planting bombs at three places in New Delhi which killed 55 people on Saturday.
On the basis of preliminary investigations, sleuths believe that the bomb blasts could be in retaliation for the Red Fort attack case, pronouncement of sentence in which was due on Saturday. However, additional judge O P Saini has since fixed Monday for pronouncing the sentence.
Last Monday he had held accused Mohammad Arif alias Ashfaq, a Pakistani, guilty of waging war against the State, along with his Indian conspirators Nazir Ahmed Qasid and his son Farooq Ahmad Qasid.
The charge could attract the death sentence.
On December 22, 2000, Lashkar militants infiltrated the historic Red Fort fort and killed two jawans and a civilian.
Ashfaq was also found guilty of murder, criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, illegal possession of arms and of illegally entering and staying in India.
Ashfaq's Indian wife Rehmana Yousuf Farooqui, who was the lone woman accused, was acquitted of the charges of conspiracy and waging war against the State but was held guilty under sections 216 (harbouring an offender) and 218 (trying to save a person from punishment) of the Indian Penal Code.
Three others -- Babar Mohsin Baghwala, Sadaqat Ali and Matloob Alam -- were convicted for complicity in the attack.
Sadaqat, who ran a cybercafe, had provided shelter to Ashfaq in south Delhi's Okhla area. They were also in touch with the other accused in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan.
Judge Saini's court, however, acquitted Rajeev Kumar Malhotra, Devender Singh, Moolchand Sharma and Shahanshah Alam as the prosecution could not prove they had provided Ashfaq with a driving licence.
The special cell framed charges against Ashfaq and 21 other accused on January 7, 2003. Eight were declared proclaimed offenders, while three suspected Lashkar militants — Abu Shyamal, Abu Sufian and Abu Bilal — were killed in encounters with the police. On December 4, 2002, the court framed charges against 11 out of whom seven were found guilty.
All the seven, including Ashfaq, pleaded not guilty, and plan to appeal against the verdict.