The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the execution of the death penalty awarded to Aftab Ansari in the case of the January 22, 2002 terrorist attack on the American Center in Kolkata.

On May 10, the court had stayed the execution of the death sentence to another accused, Md. Jamiluddin Nasir.

Now a vacation Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and C.K. Prasad, on an appeal from Ansari, stayed the execution and issued notice to the West Bengal seeking its response.

The Calcutta High Court in February this year upheld the death sentence given by a lower court to the Dubai-based don and Nasir. While three others convicted by the lower court were sentenced to life, the High Court acquitted the remaining two for lack of evidence.

The Supreme Court already admitted a West Bengal appeal challenging the acquittal of two accused persons and seeking enhancement of the life sentence to the other three.

Six policemen were killed and 14 injured in the attack, masterminded by Ansari. Two motorcycle-borne terrorists opened fire from AK-47 and AK-56 assault rifles on the policemen guarding the American Center. Ansari was arrested in Dubai soon thereafter and deported to India on February 9, 2002.

Investigations revealed that Ansari was part of the terror outfit Asif Reza Commando Force, which had links with the Harkat-ul-Jehadi-e-Islam. Ansari was running extortion and abduction rings in India and had set up bases in Kolkata, Agra, Mumbai, Malegaon and Surat.

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