Ahmedabad, June 1 (Calcutta Tube) The Gujarat High Court Tuesday confirmed the death sentence awarded to three convicts by a designated POTA (Prevention Of Terrorism Act) court for the Sep 24, 2002 Akshardham temple terror attack which left 32 people dead.
In an in-camera proceeding, a division bench of Justices R.M. Doshi and K.M. Thaker, while confirming the death sentence of the three convicts and varied prison terms of three others, observed that they did not deserve any leniency.
The court said the convicts were aware of the gravity of the offence they were going to commit and were also aware of the result and consequences of their heinous crime.
The POTA court had awarded death sentence to Adam Ajmeri, Shan Miya alias Chand Khan and Mufti Abdul Qyyum Mansuri.
Besides, Mohammed Salim Shaikh was sentenced to life imprisonment, Abdulmiyan Qadri was given a 10-year jail term and Altaf Hussain was sentenced to five years in prison.
The Akshardham terror attack incident was the first judgment of the designated court under the now-repealed POTA which was confirmed by the high court.
The POTA court had delivered the judgment in July 2006, against which some of the convicts appealed to the high court.
The high court’s final order rejecting the appeal and confirming the sentences given by the POTA court was also kept reserved for over two years.
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.