Gujarat High Court upholds death sentence in Akshardham Temple attack

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Gandhinagar: 
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The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday upheld the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) court verdict awarding death sentence to three convicts for the 2002 Akashardham terror attack, which claimed 32 lives.

The division bench of Justices R M Doshit and K M Thakar, while pronouncing the judgement, rejected the appeal of six convicts against the POTA court verdict.

Three persons, Adam Ajmeri, Shan Miya alias Chand Khan from Bareilly and Mufti Abdul Qyyum Mansuri were awarded death sentence by POTA court in July 2006.

The other three accused in the case were sentenced to various prison terms. While a local youth from Dariapur in the city, Mohammed Salim Shaikh was sentenced to life imprisonment, Abdulmiyan Qadri was given a 10-year term and Altaf Hussain was sentenced to imprisonment for five years.

Two militants, identified as Murtuza Hafiz Yasin and Ashraf Ali Mohammed Farooq, and having links with Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Taiba were killed by NAtional Security Guard (NSG) commandos during the attack on the temple in Gandhinagar on September 24, 2002.

The attackers using automatic weapons and hand grenades had killed 32 people, including 28 temple visitors, three commandos, including one from NSG, and a constable of the State Reserve Police (SRP).

The judgement was pronounced in-camera and only the prosecution and the defence counsel were allowed.

The Akshardham case is the first in India in which the accused were convicted under POTA.

Twenty-eight accused in the case were still absconding. Most of them were from Pakistan or Gulf countries.

All accused were alleged to have links with banned terrorist organisation like Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba. Some were also alleged to be linked to Pakistan intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

One of the accused in the case Shaukatullah Ghauri was arrested from Hyderabad last year. Trial against Ghauri is pending.


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