Fourteen years after 13 people were killed and 39 injured in a bomb blast in Lajpat Nagar market, a city court Thursday convicted six accused including a woman, and acquitted four due to lack of evidence. All the accused are from Jammu and Kashmir.
The verdict was pronounced by District and Sessions Judge S.P. Garg. The arguments on the quantum of sentence will take place April 13.
Garg held Mirza Nissar Hussain alias Naza, Mohammad Naushad, Mohammad Ali Bhatt alias Killey and Javed Ahmed Khan guilty for murder, attempt to murder, conspiracy and mischief. The four face a maximum punishment of death penalty.
The two other convicts were held guilty under the Explosive Substances Act and the Arms Act. Farooq Ahmed Khan was convicted under section 25 of the Arms Act and Section 5 of the Explosive Substances Act. The lone woman accused, Farida Dar, was convicted under Section 5 of the Explosive Substances Act. Both face a maximum punishment of seven years.
Acquitting four of the accused, Garg called the police investigation defective. “Due to lack of evidence, accused Mirza Ifteqhar Hussain alias Saba, Latif Ahmed Waza, Syed Maqbool Shah and Abdul Gani alias Nikka are aquitted.” The acquitted were in jail since the last 14 years.
Citing more reasons for their acquittal, Garg said that at no stage had the police opted to put any of them for test identification parade (TIP), and even the prosecution had failed to justify it.
“The evidence collected by the police was also incomplete, thus the accused are acquitted,” said Garg in his judgment report.
According to the counsel of the accused, Khalid Ansari, the acquitted will be released Thursday night or Friday morning. “Since two of the acquitted are in Loni jail and two in Tihar, completing the formalities may take some time,” he added.
He added that their families will hopefully be in Delhi in the next couple of days.
The 10 accused were arrested from different parts of the country. Farooq and Farida were arrested from Kashmir, Naushad, Ifteqhar and Maqbool Shah from Delhi, Mirza Nissar from Mussourie, Javed and Abdul Gani from Ahmedabad, and Mohammad Ali Bhatt and Latif from Gorakhpur during May-June 1996.
The blast took place on the evening of May 2, 1996, in the busy Central Market of Lajpat Nagar locality in south Delhi.