Long Walk To Freedom

Long Walk To Freedom

22 November 2012
Greater Kashmir


New Delhi: Slamming police for “serious lapses” in the investigations into the 1996 Lajpat Nagar bomb blast case, the Delhi High court Thursday acquitted two alleged militants, sentenced with capital punishment in the case, and commuted the death penalty of the third militant to life imprisonment. The court converted Jammu and Kashmir Islamic Front (JKIF) militant Muhammad Naushad’s death penalty to life term, while acquitting Mirza Nissar Hussain and Muhammad Ali Bhat alias Kille, who had been given the capital punishment by the trial court. The bench, however, upheld the life sentence given to third convict Javed Ahmad Khan alias Chotta Javed. The court gave its verdict, rebuking the Delhi Police for its failure to adduce even “the minimum standard of proof” and saying that “it has shown casual approach in the case.” “Police has not maintained minimum standard of probe in the case, Test Identification Parade was not conducted and statement of vital witnesses were not recorded. There was also absence of 'Delhi Diary' entry in the case,' the bench said. A JKIF team had set off a very high intensity blast at Lajpat Nagar market here on May 21, 1996, triggering it in explosives kept in a stolen Maruti car in the market. 13 people were killed and 38 were injured in the blast. A city court had in April 2010 convicted six alleged JKIF militants, awarding death sentence to Muhammad Naushad, Muhammad Ali Bhatt and Mirza Nissar Hussain while their fourth accomplice Javed Ahmed Khan was sentenced to life imprisonment. The remaining two convicts, Farooq Ahmed Khan and his woman accomplice Farida Dar, who had been held guilty for offences under the Explosive Substances Act and the Arms Act, were sentenced to imprisonment for seven years and four years and two months respectively. The court had been hearing the appeals of the four - Naushad, Ali Bhatt, Mirza Nissar Hussain and Javed Ahmed Khan - against their conviction and sentencing by the trial court.