Hyderabad: The NIA special court on Tuesday convicted five terrorists of the Indian Mujahideen, including Yasin Bhatkal in the 2013 Hyderabad blasts case in Dilsukhnagar. The quantum of sentence would be pronounced on December 19.

This is the first time that a verdict has been handed down against an Indian Mujahideen terrorist. The court convicted Bhatkal and others under various sections of Indian Penal Code, Arms Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

At least 17 people were killed and more than 130 others injured in the twin blasts in Dilsukhnagar on February 21, 2013.

Besides Bhatkal, the others convicted were Asadullah Akthar of Uttar Pradesh, Zia-ur-Rahman alias Waqas of Pakistan, Tahseen Akhthar of Bihar and Aizaz Shaik of Maharashtra. All of them are in judicial custody.

The alleged key conspirator Riyaz Bhatkal, believed to be operating from Karachi, is still at large.

During the probe, Yasin Bhatkal was picked up by the NIA on the Indo-Nepal border along with Asadullah on August 29, 2013. Tehseen and Zia were arrested six months later.

The NIA claimed that Asadullah, Zia and Tehseen conducted a recce of the city and decided to target Dilsukhnagar because it was a predominantly Hindu area.

An elated Director General of NIA Sharad Kumar said “it was a wonderful investigation carried out by the team in which every evidence was examined minutely. This is the first ever conviction of Indian Mujahideen cadres.” “We will be appealing for maximum punishment for the culprits,” Kumar added.

In its charge sheet, the NIA had claimed that Indian Mujahideen had hatched a conspiracy to wage a war against India and decided to carry out bomb blasts in Hyderabad to create terror in the minds of people and further the activities of the outfit.

The main operative of the module, Riyaz Bhatkal, who is named as the first accused in the case, had allegedly directed his associates Asadullah Akhtar and Waqas to find a place in Mangalore to be used as a hide-out for explosive materials sent by him, it had allaged.

After receiving the materials sent by Riyaz through an unknown person, and the money sent by him by way of hawala and other channels. Asadullah Akhtar and Waqas reached Hyderabad and started working with Tahseen Akhthar alias Monu, who had already reached there and was living in a hideout in Abdullapurmet area, the NIA probe report claimed. The three of them prepared two IEDs while staying there.

The other materials needed to make the bomb, including a pressure cooker and timers, were arranged in Hyderabad. After the bomb was made, on February 21, they mounted two IEDs on two bicycles (purchased by them for that purpose), and planted them in two separate places in Dilsukhnagar, it alleged.

The NIA investigation has brought to evidence all the financial help received by the accused from abroad.

The NIA also said it learnt that the miscreants, after procuring the explosive materials to Hyderabad, had conducted a test blast in a hillock near Abdullapurmet in Hyderabad.

The main feature of the conspiracy was that the accused were communicating through the Internet, chatting with each other throughout the planning, finding suitable hideouts, purchasing materials for the bombs, until the final escape.

They were also found to have used proxy servers to hide their identity.

The role of Yasin Bhatkal in the planning, procurement of explosives and harbouring of Asadullah Akhthar after the incident, was also unearthed by the NIA, the agency said.

During investigation, a total of 440 witnesses were examined and 251 documents and 300 material objects seized.

Extensive cyber forensic evidence was gathered and placed on record as evidence.

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