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Convicted by Gujarat High Court, SC acquits 4 Muslim men after 13 years in prison

AHMEDABAD: Two persons who were convicted in connection with the 2002 tiffin-bomb blast case, in which the state government had invoked the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota) was released from prison after spending 13 years in jail by the Supreme Court on Thursday.

The court declared Habib Hawa and Hanif Pakitwala as innocent and the apex court also ended the imprisonment of two others Anas Machiswala and Kalim Ahmed. All the four men were convicted in relation to five bombs planted in tiffin boxes aboard Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service (AMTS) buses on May 29, 2002, in reaction to the 2002 riots. Three of the bombs went off, injuring 13 persons. Their advocate Khalid Shaikh said. “All four were convicted to life imprisonment by Gujarat high court.”

The city crime branch has filed charge sheets against 21 persons for planning a criminal conspiracy. They were also charged under Pota and the Explosive Substances Act apart from provisions of the Indian Penal Code.

On May 29. 2006 the special Pota court discharged four persons from the case after trying 17 accused, then the court freed 12, convicted five and sentenced them to 10 years imprisonment.

The convicts challenged the Pota court order and referred the high court. The state government has also challenged the order before the HC, seeking the punishment to be enhanced.

Justice Jayant Patel and Justice H B Antani heard the appeals. The HC upheld convictions of the four and acquitted Mansuri. While upholding the convictions of the four, the HC enhanced their punishment from a 10-year jail term to life imprisonment.

Advocate Shaikh said that “Machiswala and Kalim Ahmed, whose convictions were upheld by the SC, confessed to the crime of hatching a conspiracy in another case, which involved an ISI conspiracy”.