Anwar Ali Javed Ali Khan (50), an Urdu Ph.D scholar and former lecturer at the National Defence Academy (NDA) who was among the 10 persons convicted by a special Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) court in Mumbai in connection with the three serial blasts between December 2002 and March 2003 in the state capital, walked out of the court on Wednesday as a free man after being convicted and sentenced for two years in prison for possession of a firearm.

(Anwar Ali Javed Ali Khan, cleared of terror charges but convicted under Arms Act, has already spent eight years behind bars)

Khan has already spent eight years behind bars.

Speaking to The Indian Express as he came out the court in Mumbai, Khan said, “I am glad about a part of the judgment in which I have been exonerated of terror charges and of waging war against the state. But I feel bad about the precious eight years I have lost behind bars. I have been sentenced for two years in jail for the alleged recovery of a pistol. I have already undergone that sentence.”

“I am thankful to Allah that the POTA case and terror charges against me have been dropped. I have faith in Allah and the judiciary that I will be acquitted from this sentence too after the appeal in the higher court. I will challenge this ruling in the High Court after consultation with my lawyer.”

It may be recalled that 12 persons had died and 27 others injured in explosions at the Mumbai Central railway station on December 6, 2002, Mungibai Market in Vile Parle East on January 27, 2003 and inside the compartment of a Karjat-bound local train when it approached Mulund railway station on March 13, 2003.

The Mumbai police arrested Khan, a resident of Old Modikhana in Pune, on May 11, 2003, for his alleged links with the operatives of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) who masterminded the bomb blasts. Police also claimed to have recovered a pistol from his house in Pune.

Khan was also booked for his alleged role in the December 2002 bomb blast in a BEST bust in Ghatkopar in Mumbai, but was discharged from this case in March 2004. However, he continued to be in jail as he was being tried for his alleged links in Mulund blast case. After spending nearly eight years in prison, the court granted him bail in February 2011, on certain conditions.

Last week, the POTA court had convicted him for possession of a pistol but acquitted him of terror conspiracy charges. (