Gujarat court to deliver judgment in 2008 Ahmedabad serial bombing case

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A special appointed court is due to rule on Tuesday in the case of the serial bombing in Ahmedabad against 78 suspects accused of killing 56 people and injuring hundreds in the city on July 26, 2008. After a Prolonged trial of nearly 14 years, the court concluded hearings in September and had reserved the order for disposition.

Only two of the defendants, one for treatment of schizophrenia and the second for rendering an approver, have been released on bail while the other 76 suspects have been languishing in jail since being arrested at various times while awaiting trial. The case is considered to be one of the longest criminal trials in recent years. Special Judge Ambalal Patel, the court appointed to try bombing cases, will deliver judgment virtually.

On July 26, 2008, simultaneous bomb explosions killed 56 people in Ahmedabad and injured more than 200. Police registered 20 FIRs in Ahmedabad while another 15 FIRs were registered in Surat, where bombs were recovered from various locations. The two cases were merged for trial as the police investigation claimed that “they were part of the same conspiracy” by an Indian mujahideen terror group, a breakaway faction of the banned Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

Suspects include former SIMI leader Safdar Nagori, Hafiz Hussain Mulla, Saduli Abdul Karim, Kamruddin Chand Nagori, Amil Parvez Shaikh, Mohammed Yasin, Sibli Abdul Karim Muslim, Mohammed Ansari, among others. The investigation was carried out by the Crime Detection Branch (DCB), Ahmedabad, which claimed that the motive behind the terrorist strikes was “to avenge the atrocities against Muslims during the 2002 post-Godhra riots”.

Numerous disputes would have delayed the trial. He was also assigned following the 2014 escape attempt by 24 key defendants who were housed in Sabarmati Central Jail. The DCB investigation claimed that a 213ft long tunnel had been dug at Sabarmati Central Jail for escape. An internal report revealed that dozens of complaints had been filed against prison authorities alleging stripping under the pretext of searching, denial of medical facilities, among other fundamental rights to subtrials.

The delay in the trial has also led to several other controversies, including the change in appearance of the suspects. The prosecution wanted the defendants to be identified in court during the trial by their photographs taken at the time of their arrest. It has been argued that over the years many appearances of suspects have changed due to mustaches and beards. This argument was rejected by the court. After hearing the case from the premises of Sabarmati prison, the trial proceeded by videoconference.

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