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Akshardham attack
HC upholds death for three

Ahmedabad, June 1
The Gujarat High Court today upheld the death sentence awarded to three convicts by a POTA court for the 2002 Akashardham terror attack by Pakistan-based LeT terrorists in which 32 persons were killed.

The division bench of Justices RM Doshit and KM Thakar, while pronouncing the verdict, rejected the appeal of six convicts, including the three given death sentence, against the POTA court judgement. The court observed that the six accused were involved in the entire conspiracy to attack Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar on September 24, 2002, which was backed by the LeT, public prosecutor JM Panchal said.

Reporters were not allowed inside the court during the pronouncement of judgement that was delivered during in-camera proceedings. Panchal said all accused had knowledge of seriousness of the offence, its repercussions, and despite that they provided logistic support to the two terrorists to cause maximum damage.

He said the court observed that this was an offence against the state, which involved support to terrorists and terror groups. Therefore, the court observed the sentence awarded by the POTA court was just and appropriate, Panchal said. Two militants who were Pakistan nationals, identified as Murtuza Hafiz Yasin and Ashraf Ali Mohammed Farooq, of the LeT were killed by the NSG commandos during the attack on the temple. The terrorists had planned to take hostages but they were not successful due to efforts of the local police in the initial period of the attack. The Akshardham case is the first in India in which the accused were convicted under POTA. Three persons, Adam Ajmeri, Shan Miya, alias Chand Khan, from Bareilly and Mufti Abdul Qyyum Mansuri were awarded death sentence by POTA court in July 2006.

Twenty-eight accused in the case were still absconding, this includes Farooq Mohammand Hanif Shaik, Abdulraashid Suleman Ajmeri, Majid Patel, Iqubal Patel and Gulam Lehiri. Most of them have fled to Pakistan or Gulf countries. PTI

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