A special NIA court here, which had last week convicted five Indian Mujahideen militants in the 2013 Bodh Gaya blasts case, today deferred till tomorrow the pronouncement of quantum of sentence. Special NIA Judge Manoj Kumar Sinha posted the matter after hearing arguments from the prosecution, which pressed for severe punishment to the convicts, and counter- arguments from the defence side.
Special Public Prosecutor Lalan Kumar Sinha said all five convicts - Imtiyaz Ansari, Haider Ali, Mujib Ullah, Omair Siddiqui and Azharuddin Qureishi - should be awarded imprisonment for life. He argued that the blasts triggered at a world-renowned pilgrim spot could have caused "heavy casualties, leading to national and international ramifications".
No deaths were recorded in the blasts, though some people, including Buddhist monks, had sustained injuries in the series of explosions that had rocked Bodh Gaya on July 7, 2013. Defence counsel Surya Prakash Singh, however, repudiated the prosecution's arguments, saying the explosions "were nothing more than a protest against atrocities on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar by the Buddhist majority".
"Had the intention been to cause casualties, bombs would not have been planted at secluded spots and timer would not have been fixed at 5 am, when very few people were likely to be present at the Bodhi temple", Singh said. In addition to the five convicts, another accused, Taufiq Ahmed, was held guilty in the case by a juvenile court in October last year and sent to remand home for three years.
All the six are also facing trial along with others in the Patna blasts case of 2013. A series of bombs had exploded at a massive election rally of the then Gujarat chief minister and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Of the estimated 3,00,000 participants at the "Hunkar" rally, six people were killed and 89 others injured in the blasts.