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Life term for nine in Pandya murder case

Ahmedabad, June 25
The designated POTA court today sentenced nine persons to life imprisonment in the Haren Pandya murder case, wherein the senior BJP leader and former Gujarat home minister was shot dead in the city, here on March 26, 2003.

The POTA court judge, Sonia Gokani, while delivering the judgement inside the Sabarmati Jail, held a total of 12 persons guilty for the BJP leader’s murder.

The judge also sentenced two other accused to seven years’ imprisonment while one more accused was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.

A total of 19 persons were named as accused in the case out of which 15 have been arrested while four others are still absconding.

The investigation of the case was first carried out by the City Crime Branch and was then handed over to the CBI.

The CBI had claimed a major breakthrough in the case when the director of the investigating agency flew down to Ahmedabad and claimed that they had recovered the murder weapon and the clothes worn by Asghar Ali, one of the prime accused in the case.

The key suspect in the case has been accused of inciting Muslim youths after the post-Godhra communal riots of 2002 allegedly asking them to take revenge on the Hindu community by targeting political leaders.

The prime accused selected youths from Ahmedabad and Hyderabad and sent them to Pakistan for terrorist training in camps runs by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Laskar-e-Toiba (LeT), according to the prosecution.

After returning from Pakistan, some of these youths first executed the tiffin bomb blasts and then targeted Jagdish Tiwari, a local VHP leader, who was shot at and injured, the prosecution said.

Later, they targeted senior BJP leader and former Home Minister Haren Pandya and killed him at Law Garden when the leader had gone for a morning walk, they said.

However, throughout the probe, the father of Haren Pandya, Vithalbhai, had claimed that the murder of his son was politically motivated and Chief Minister Narendra Modi was behind it. — PTI

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