A court here on Thursday sentenced five Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) men to life imprisonment for indulging in terrorist activities, terming them as “merchants of death and destruction”.

“India's war against terrorism is to be waged not only by security measures but also by all organs of the State, including the judiciary, which must share the responsibility of dealing with such elements with an iron hand,” said Additional Sessions Judge R. K. Gauba.

Pronouncing the sentence against convicts Noor Mohammad Tantre, Pervaiz Ahmed Mir, Faroz Ahmed Bhat and two brothers Atiquz-Zama and Raees-uz-Zama, the court said the challenge posed by terrorism has to be met head on by a multi-pronged strategy.

The court, which had convicted them a couple of days earlier for offences under stringent Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), IPC and Explosive Substances Act, also imposed a fine of Rs.50,000 each on them.

Plea refused

It refused to allow a plea by defence counsel M. S. Khan for a lenient view of the convicts on the ground that they had already spent over seven years in jail and had families to look after.

“These foot soldiers of forces inimical to India and bent upon sabotaging the peace and tranquillity here besides posing a serious threat to its unity, sovereignty and integrity, have to be neutralised….In order that they are suitably de-fanged and blunted so as to be of no further use to the enemy, it is imperative that these merchants of death and destruction are locked away for their remaining lives, which is the course permissible in the statutory prescriptions provided for a large number of offences committed by them,” the court said in its seven-page order.

Convicts Raees and Atiq, who hail from Sikandrabad in Uttar Pradesh, are brothers of Habibullah, who was gunned down by Delhi Police along with Pakistani national Zahoor in an encounter on August 30, 2003, in the Millennium Park near Nizamuddin Bridge here.

All the five militants were arrested by the Delhi Police on August 30-31, 2003, following the encounter.

Besides arms and ammunition, the police also claimed to have recovered a sum of Rs.19.20 lakh from prime accused Tantray who was held in Sadar Bazar here.

In its order, the court also referred to various terrorist attacks in the country, including the Mumbai terror attack in November 2008, the attack on Parliament and different bomb blasts to emphasise that those involved were found to be having connection with Pakistan. - PTI