26/11 attacks offshoot of single conspiracy: Nikam

Mumbai: Justifying the death sentence awarded to Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab, government counsel Ujjwal Nikam on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that the 26/11 terror strikes in parts of the city were not different acts, but outcome of a single conspiracy hatched by LeT.

The conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan with an express intention to destabilise India, wage war against the country, terrorise its citizens, create financial losses and issue a warning to the nations whose people were targeted in 26/11, he submitted before justices Ranjana Desai and R V More.

Ten members of Pakistan-based LeT, including Kasab, had sailed from Karachi to Mumbai in a boat in November 2008.

After reaching here, they struck terror at various places killing 166 people and destroying government and private property valued at Rs 42 crore, he said.

Nikam, however, said the trial court had wrongfully discarded evidence of prosecution witnesses in regard to the identification of eight slain terrorists, who had attacked Oberoi, Taj Mahal hotels and Nariman House in south Mumbai.

The trial court was of the view that these witnesses had identified the bodies of the attackers in the trial.

Nikam contended that these witnesses had identified in the mortuary itself the bodies of slain terrorists as those who attacked the two hotels and Nariman House. They had also identified the accused from the photographs which appeared on the fake identity cards found on their person.

The witnesses had also identified the slain terrorists in the CCTV footages shown to them. The footages were taken from cameras installed in the luxury hotels, Nikam said.

Therefore, it was not considered necessary for the prosecution to bring the bodies of slain terrorists to the court for identification, he argued.

The identification of bodies from the CCTV footage and fake identity cards found on their person were substantive pieces of evidence, the prosecutor pointed out.

Nikam described how terrorists landed at Badhwar Park in a boat and spread in pairs to different places. Abu Shoib and Abu Umer had hired a taxi to restaurant Leopold Cafe, and on the way planted a bomb beneath driver's seat. They got down at Leopold Cafe and the bomb exploded later at Mazgaon, killing three persons, including the taxi driver.

The duo opened fire at people sitting in Leopold Café, killing 11 persons, including two foreigners, and injuring several others, Nikam submitted.

Both terrorists then joined another pair attacking Hotel Taj Mahal, Abdul Rehman Bada and Javed alias Abu Ali, where they killed 36 people and set off a powerful bomb damaging dome of the world heritage hotel and set on fire rooms on the sixth floor, he said.

The high court is hearing the conformation of death sentence awarded to Kasab for his role in the carnage. The 23-year-old was given death penalty by the trial court on May 6.