Mumbai train blasts: Prosecution not to seek death for everyone

The prosecution in the Mumbai serial train blasts case on Tuesday said it would not seek death penalty for all the 12 convicts.

Mumbai: The prosecution in the Mumbai serial train blasts case on Tuesday said it would not seek death penalty for all the 12 convicts.

The defence lawyers, winding up their arguments on the quantum of punishment, pleaded that none of the convicts be given the death because according to the prosecution's own case they were mere foot-soldiers and not the masterminds.

Earlier this month, the judge Yatin Shinde convicted 12 accused while acquitting one. Serial blasts on Mumbai local trains on July 11, 2006, killed at least 188 persons.

Special Public Prosecutor Raja Thakare today said that as far as the gravity of the offence was concerned, all the accused stood on the same platform. "If we go by the principle that all conspirators should be treated equally, then everyone should get the death penalty. However, I would not pray for death for all," he said.

Thakare said he would classify the convicts into two categories: those who should get the death penalty and those who should get life imprisonment.

"The punishment in grave and serious offences should reflect the revulsion felt by the great majority of citizens," said Thakare.

"The offence against the state is committed with a view to striking terror and disturb the peace in the community and also to cause breach of public order," he argued.

"There is a foreign hand in the commission of offence and some of the convicts went to Pakistani terror training camps to get training in handling of arms and preparing bombs," Thakare told the court.

The RDX, which was used in the blasts, is capable of causing a mass destruction, prosecutor Thakare noted.

Apart from the 188 deaths, the blasts also caused a loss off Rs 22 crore to the public exchequer, he said.

It created a fear psychosis in the minds of the people, especially the commuters of Mumbai suburban trains. This trauma and the shock and agony caused by the blasts could not be calculated, he said.

"It is not a case of a single isolated incident but a systematic planting of seven powerful bombs in a diabolical manner, set with such an extreme precision that they exploded within five minutes (of each other) causing utter chaos and confusion among the helpless and defenceless victims," Thakare argued.

All the accused were settled, well-educated, had occupations and families; none of them claimed that he was induced by monetary temptations to take part in the conspiracy and they all were mature enough to know what was wrong and what was right for the society. But none of them had second thoughts about participating, said the prosecutor.

Earlier, defence lawyer Yug Chaudhry argued that the mastermind of the conspiracy was Lashkar-e-Toiba member Azam Cheema (shown as an absconding accused in the case). "Cheema was the mastermind while the convicts are the foot-soldiers; even if the convicts had withdrawn, Cheema may have brought some new people to execute his plans," he said.

It was Cheema who gave instructions and exercised complete control and selected people from India and Pakistan for the operation, he said.

"Cheema was the architect of the entire operation, the RDX and finance required to execute the operation was provided by him," Chaudhry argued.

The prosecution's argument would continue tomorrow. 

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