Akshardham acquitted willing to knock on Modi's door

May 26, 2014 09:14 pm | Updated November 28, 2021 09:11 pm IST - MUMBAI:

Adambhai Ajmeri (52) says he had never seen the Akshardham temple located in the heart of Gandhinagar in Gujarat nor was he an autorickshaw puller. But on August 8, 2003 he was arrested under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) in the Akshardham terror attack case of September 2002. 11 years later, he has been acquitted by the Supreme Court for lack of evidence. But the terror tag has done irreparable damage to him and his family.

“My son who was in class two stopped going to school the very next day of my arrest because he felt ostracised by his classmates. He vowed not to go school until I return. My wife and others tried a lot to convince him, even beaten him up, but he did not budge. As a result my son has been rendered illiterate for his entire life,” Ajmeri told The Hindu.

Ajmeri was accused for ferrying the two alleged Jaish-e-Mohammed operatives - Murtaza Hafiz Yasin and Ahraf Ali Mohammed Farooq in his autorickshaw and helped them in conducting the reconnaissance of the temple which was attacked. In July 2006 , the POTA court awarded the death sentence to Ajmeri . However earlier this month , a Supreme Court bench acquitted and the five others in the case for the want of evidence against them.

Like Ajmeri, the other five Muslim men who were arrested by the Gujarat police have similar sordid tales to narrate. All the acquitted accused now plan to file a plea in the apex court to probe the role of the investigating officer for pressing false charges against them and also demand for compensation.

“Section 58(1) and (2) of POTA has provision to act against the investigating officer for levelling false charges and also the remedy to demand for compensation. We would like to avail these remedies,” another acquitted accused Mohammed Salim told us.

“We want a through probe to be done against the then crime branch Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), G L Singhal and the then Crime Branch Chief, DG Vanzara. They wrongly booked us in the case,” said Salim.

All the men claim that they were asked to choose between the different cases that were being probed by the Gujarat police as to in which they would ‘liked’ to be booked under. “When we were produced before DG Vanzara and GL Singhal they asked us if we knew anything about the Akshardham attack or the Godhra incident or the Haren Pandya murder case. I told them my knowledge was limited to the articles I had read on the papers. In the weeks that followed I was arrested for Akarshdham,” Salim added. Salim was charged for ferrying the  hawla  money from Saudi Arabia to Gujarat and also provide the cell phones used by the fidayeen in the case. He was awarded life imprisonment by the POTA court.

“We are sure that the men who were gunned down in the encounter were not from Jaish-e-Mohammed but innocent men,” said another accused Maulana Abdulla said.

These arrest happened at the time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the Gujarat chief minister, the accused however say that they have faith in the new PM and that justice won’t be denied to them.

“We have heard Mr. Modi’s speeches and hope he has a change of heart. To get justice we don’t might even knocking on PMO’s door and we hope that justice will be delivered to us,” adds Maulana Abdulla.

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