The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday confirmed the death sentence awarded to three persons and prison terms to three others in the case of the September 24, 2002 terrorist attack on the Akshardham temple.
A Division Bench of Justices R.M. Doshi and K.M. Thaker said the convicts did not deserve any leniency because they were aware of the gravity of the crime they were going to commit, and of its consequences.
In its first judgment, the court designated under the now repealed Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) handed the sentences in July 2006. Some of the convicts went on appeal. The High Court's final order rejecting the appeal and confirming the sentences was kept reserved for more than two years.
The POTA court had awarded death sentence to Adam Ajmeri, Shan Miya alias Chand Khan, who hails from Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, and Mufti Abdul Qyyum Mansuri. While Mohammed Salim Shaikh, a youth from Dariapur in the walled city of Ahmedabad, was sentenced to life imprisonment, Abdulmiyan Qadri got a 10-year term and Altaf Hussain five years.
The High Court said that though the convicts had no criminal records, they were indulging in terrorist activities supported by the Pakistan-based terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed. The accused were involved in the offence of waging war against the nation, it said. The general belief that the attack was to avenge the 2002 communal riots in the State was not true. “Their act was not to take revenge but to create terror in the minds of the people,” the Bench said.
Murtuza Hafiz Yasin and Ashraf Ali Mohammed Farooq, who entered the Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar, resorted to indiscriminate firing and lobbed grenades, killing 32 persons and injuring more than 80. But they were killed by the commando forces the same night.
At least 28 others, accused by the police of being involved in the attack, are still absconding.