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Red Fort Attack
SC upholds death for Pakistani terrorist
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 10
Confirming the death sentence awarded to Pakistani terrorist Mohd Arif, alias Ashfaq, for killing three soldiers in an attack on an Army battalion stationed at Red Fort here in 2000, the Supreme Court today said the convict did not deserve anything less as he was part of both the conspiracy to wage a war against India and its execution.

“It was a direct attack on the unity, integrity and sovereignty of India by foreigners. Thus, it was an attack on Mother India…. Appellant (Ashfaq) was a foreign national and had entered India without any authorisation or even justification,” a Bench comprising Justices VS Sirpurkar and TS Thakur ruled in a 153-page verdict.

Further, Ashfaq was part of a conspiracy to “wage a war against India” through deceit and other means, the Bench noted. “We, therefore, have no doubts that death sentence was the only sentence in the peculiar circumstance of this case,” the Bench said while endorsing the capital punishment awarded to him by the trial court and confirmed by the Delhi High Court.

During the hearing of the appeal, Ashfaq could not cite a single mitigating circumstance warranting commutation of the death penalty, the apex court pointed out.

“This attack rocked the whole nation generally and the city of Delhi in particular as Red Fort is very significant in history,” the Bench noted. Further, it is a place from where the Prime Minister addresses the nation every year on the occasion of Independence Day, the Judges pointed out.

“A conspiracy to attack the Indian Army unit stationed in Red Fort and the consequent unprovoked attack cannot be described excepting as waging war against India and there can be no question of compromising on this issue,” the SC said in the verdict, written by Justice Sirpurkar.

This was a case where the collective conscience of the community was shocked and people “would definitely expect the death penalty” for Ashfaq, the court noted.

In all, six militants had sneaked into the fort on December 22, 2000, and opened indiscriminate fire, killing three. After the attack, all of them escaped by scaling the rear boundary wall of the 17th-century monument.

Ashfaq’s Indian wife Rehamana Yosuf Farooqui had been given a seven-year jail term by the High Court after reducing the life term awarded by the trial court. The High Court also reversed the findings against five others, including Srinagar-based father-and-son duo Nazir Ahmed Qasid and Farooq Ahmed Qasid, who had also been given life term.





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