Akshardham terror attack: High Court upholds death sentence for three

The Gujarat High Court has upheld a POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act) court’s order awarding the death sentence to three persons for the terrorist attack on Akshardham temple in 2002.

The bench comprised of Justice RM Doshit and Justice KM Thaker confirmed the death sentence for three accused named Chand Khan from Bareilly, Adam Ajmeri and Mufti Abdul Qayyum Mansuri from Dariapur area in Ahmedabad for conspiring and providing information to the militants for Akshardham attack on September 24, 2002, killing 34 and injuring 81.

The HC also upheld the verdicts of other three, confirming the life imprisonment of Mohammed Salim Shaikh, 10 years imprisonment of Abdullamiya Qadri and five-year term for Altaf Hussain Malek, who were involved in the terror attack along with the main convicts.

The High Court in its judgment observed that though the convicts had no past criminal records, they indulged in terrorist activities supported by Pakistan-based major terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.

The court considered confessional statements of the accused and other supportive evidence and said the accused were involved in waging war against the nation.

The court also said the general belief that the terror attack on the temple was to take “revenge” for the 2002 communal riots in the state was not true in case of the convicts.

“Their act was not to take revenge but to create terror in the minds of people,” the court observed.

Two terrorists – Murtuza Hafiz Yasin and Ashraf Ali Mohammed Farooq – entered the temple in Gandhinagar, indulged in indiscriminate firing and used hand grenades killing 32 people and injuring more than 80. The two were killed by security forces during the operation the same night.

The convicts included those who provided logistic and other support to the two terrorists to enter the temple and launch the attack. At least 28 accused involved in the attack are still absconding.

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