Eleven years after the assassination of Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, six persons were convicted on Friday by a special court, which acquitted one of the accused.
Jagtar Singh Hawara, Balwant Singh, Shamsher Singh, Lakhwinder Singh and Gurmeet Singh were convicted under Sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC while Naseeb Singh has been held guilty under the Explosives Substances Act by the special court of additional sessions judge Ravi Kumar Sondhi.
The order has been pronounced at the high security Burail jail in Chandigarh, CBI counsel S K Saxena told media persons outside the jail premises.
The court will pronounce the quantum of sentence to the six convicts on Saturday.
The trial in the case was against nine persons, including 'mastermind' of the conspiracy Jagtar Singh Hawara, the operations chief of militant outfit Babbar Khalsa International.
The blast was carried out by a suicide bomber, Dilawar Singh, who was a Punjab Police constable.
The conspiracy of all the accused was unearthed when a car painter Balwinder Singh identified the vehicle used in the blast by the terrorists as he painted it.
The trial that ended in this month only was marred by a sensational escape of three accused from the jail.
On the night of January 21, 2004, three terrorists Jagtar Singh Hawara, Jagtar Singh Tara and Paramjit Singh Bheora besides Dev Singh, a life convict, escaped from the high security jail by digging about 110-foot-long tunnel under the barrack.
However, later Delhi Police arrested Hawara and Bheora whereas Jagtar Singh Tara was still absconding.
The case was initially handled by Punjab Police before being handed over to the CBI.
The chargesheet of the case was filed in May, 1996 and hearing was initially held seven days in a month. However, for the past couple of years, the hearing had been held daily in the jail premises.
Thirteen people were named as accused in the case, out of which nine were arrested, three were at large and the suicide bomber, Dilawar Singh, died during the explosion.
Besides Tara, the other proclaimed offenders in the case Wadhwa Singh, Mahal Singh and Jagroop Singh are reportedly based in Pakistan.
While Chandigarh Police investigated the case, the CBI procured the data. More than 250 witnesses had been examined and cross-examined during the course of trial.
During the trial, accused Balwant Singh and Jagtar Singh Tara withdrew the power of attorney and accepted that they were guilty.
The family members of some of the convicts were also present in the court on Friday.