Eleven years after the twin bombings in Hyderabad at Gokul Chat and Lumbini Park, which left 42 people dead and over 50 people injured, a local court on Tuesday pronounced two of the accused - Aneeq Shafique Sayeed and Ismail Chaudhary - guilty. Two others - Farooq Sharfuddin Tarkish and Mohd Sadiq Israr Shaik - have been acquitted. The quantum of punishment will be pronounced on Monday, September 10. The blasts were carried out by the banned outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM). The founders of IM, Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, along with another accused, are absconding.
The verdict against another accused, Tariq Anjum, who was charged with sheltering and harbouring the seven main accused, will be pronounced on Monday along with the quantum of punishment.
The twin bombings happened 11 years ago, on August 25, 2007. Gokul Chat is located near the city’s Koti area, and Lumbini Park is near the Secretariat on Tank Bund Road. More than 150 witnesses were questioned and cross-examined during the decade-long trial, the hearing for which concluded on August 7.
Following the verdict, prosecutor K Surender said that all the witnesses were cooperative. “No one succumbed to pressure. They gave all their statements in court,” he said.
Since early morning on Tuesday, security was beefed up around Cherlapally Central Prison, where the accused are housed, and where the verdict was pronounced.
The verdict was delivered by Sessions Judge Srinivas Rao, who also delivered the verdict in other crucial cases like the Begumpet Task Force building bomb blast and the attack on Akbaruddin Owaisi.
The first blast took place as several people, including a large group of tourists from Maharashtra, were watching a laser show at Lumbini Park – famous for its boat rides to the giant Buddha statue in Hussain Sagar lake. Within minutes, the second blast took place at Koti, a business hub and a haunt for book lovers in the city. One unexploded bomb was also found near Dilsukhnagar, and was later defused by police forces.
The Counter Intelligence (CI) wing of the Telangana Police, which is investigating the case, said that banned outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM) was responsible for the blasts and the main accused, Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, who are the founders of IM, are absconding.
A chargesheet was filed in 2013 against Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, Aneeq Shafique Sayeed, Ismail Chaudhary, Farooq Sharfuddin Tarkish, Mohd Sadiq Israr Shaik and one other person. They were booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Explosive Substances Act.
Aneeq Shafique Sayeed, Ismail Chaudhary, Farooq Sharfuddin Tarkish, Mohd Sadiq Israr Shaik were all lodged in Cherlapally jail. The other three accused, including the Bhatkal brothers, are absconding.
The case against Taariq Anjum was being heard parallely, but he was not charged with the others for the blasts.
According to the police, Riyaz Bhatkal had asked Mohammed Akbar Ismail Chaudhary, a resident of Pune, to visit Hyderabad and identify crowded places to plant bombs. As instructed, he conducted a recce across Hyderabad and planted bombs at several places, out of which two exploded.
The investigating authorities had earlier said that terrorists used Neogel-90, an ammonium nitrate base, in the improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
In 2014, IM co-founder Iqbal Bhatkal said that he had supplied explosives to Riyaz, days before the blast. "I supplied IEDs to Riyaz Bhatkal in Udupi, Karnataka, 8-10 days prior to the blasts at Gokul Chat and Lumbini Park. I do not know the people who participated in the two blasts in Hyderabad," Bhatkal said in his statement before a magistrate in Miyapur.
The confession was part of the chargesheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) before a Delhi court.
When quizzed about their motive, the accused reportedly told investigators that they wanted to take revenge for the blasts carried out in Mecca Masjid.
On 18 May, 2007, as thousands gathered for the Friday prayers at Mecca Masjid, considered one of the holiest sites in the city, two blasts ripped through the mosque, killing 9 people, injuring 58 others.
Earlier this year, an NIA special court in Hyderabad acquitted 5 accused in the case, including main accused Swami Aseemanand, citing lack of evidence.
(With IANS inputs)