Blast killed 17 innocent people, I'm the 18th, weeping Himayat Baig tells court

FP

Himayat Baig broke down in court as he told the judge that he had nothing to do with the bombing, and that the judgment had punished an innocent man. Soon after he was given the death sentence, Baig fainted while being escorted to the custody room.

"Judge sahab, mera iss case se kucch lena dena nahi hai," Baig, who the Maharashtra ATS says is the Lashkar commander in the state, told Additional Sessions Judge N P Dhote after the judge gave him time to have his say before announcing the punishment.

"I come from a poor family... I wanted to do something for my community, which is backward in every way. I had come to Pune on January 31, 2010 for a rally seeking reservations for Muslims. I was not on the run (as the ATS says). We knew that a lot of innocent youths had been arrested. I was afraid that the same would happen to me, hence I stayed at home..."

At this point, the judge told him to briefly present his argument on the quantum of punishment. Baig then started to read from a four-page handwritten note in Marathi.

"I am a person who believes in Allah. He knows that I would never be part of a heinous crime like this. I have full faith in the judiciary which believes in the principle that '100 criminals may be allowed to go free but not even one innocent person should be punished..." He broke down, and his speech then became incomprehensible.

On recovering somewhat, Baig continued, "In the German Bakery blast 17 innocent people were killed. Now one more innocent person is being victimised. I am the 18th victim of the blast. To render justice to the victims of the blast it would be inappropriate to punish another innocent person.

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