MUMBAI:Abdul Wahid Sheikh (34), the only accused, who has been acquitted, signalled the victory sign to his brother-in-law as soon as the court announced that he was not guilty. Sheikh was accused of helping the convict Ehtesham Siddiqui.
“I feel happy for him. He has been proven innocent after nine years,” his brother-in-law, who refused to reveal his name, said. “We knew from day one that he was innocent. He was framed for no reason. He was tortured by the police and his statement was taken forcefully. The police had no proof against him,” he added. According to the police, Sheikh gave shelter to Ehtesham Kutubuddin Siddiqui, who was the joint secretary of the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) for Maharashtra at the time of the bombings.
Besides attending conspiracy meetings, Siddiqui had also conducted reconnaissance of local trains. He was also present when the bombs were made. He planted an explosive in a local train, which exploded at Mira Road station. He was subsequently arrested by the Anti-Terrorism Squad.
The brother of another convict Sajid Ansari claimed that Sajid too was framed. “If you check Sajid’s call records, you will find that he was not anywhere near the blast sites or the places where the conspiracy was hatched. I will appeal against his conviction in the high court,” he said with an air of certainty.
The accused have claimed that call data records of many of them fly in the face of the police accusations. The defence lawyers have cited their call data records to argue that at least four of the accused were nowhere near where the police had claimed they were. Sajid Ansari had allegedly collected mobile phones from the accused, went to Govandi and Bandra and was also involved in assembling the deadly explosives. Ansari’s brother asserted that this case will go on for more years, indicating his intention to appeal.
Meanwhile, relatives of the other convicts refused to speak to the media on the court premises. Some of them, however, found fault with the lower court’s verdict, saying that there was no justice, at least in the lower courts. It is likely that all of them will appeal in the high court sooner than later after the quantum of punishment is announced.