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Supreme Court upholds Ajmal Kasab's death sentence

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the death sentence of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack convict Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, saying that waging war against the country was the primary and foremost offence committed by the Pakistani terrorist.

A Bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice CK Prasad dismissed the plea of 25-year-old Kasab challenging his conviction and death sentence confirmed by the Bombay high court.

The Bench rejected his contention that he was not given a free and fair trial in the case.

The Bench also observed that the failure of government to provide him an advocate at the pre-trial stage did not vitiate trial court proceedings against him.

It also held that the confessional statement given by Kasab, which he retracted during trial, was very much voluntary except a very small portion.

Kasab along with nine other Pakistani terrorists had landed in south Mumbai on November 26, 2008 night after travelling from Karachi by sea and had gone on a shooting spree at various city landmarks, in which 166 people were killed.

While Kasab was captured alive, the other terrorists in his group were killed by security forces during the counter-terror operations.

The apex court also upheld the acquittal of two Indians, who were alleged to be co-conspirators in the Mumbai terror attack case.

The trial court and Bombay High Court had also given clean chit to Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed in the case.

The Bench held that evidence showed that the conspiracy and planning of the 26/11 carnage was hatched in Pakistan.

Reacting to the verdict, senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, who was appointed by the apex court as amicus curiae to defend Kasab, said, "I bow down to the apex court verdict."

The apex court passed the order on the petition filed by Kasab challenging Bombay High Court's verdict upholding the trial court's judgement convicting him and awarding death sentence in the 26/11 case.

The Bench had reserved its verdict on April 25 after a marathon hearing, spanning over two-and-a-half months of arguments by the prosecution and defence counsel in the case.

Kasab, during arguments in the apex court, had contended that he was not given a free and fair trial and that he was not part of any larger conspiracy for waging war against India.

He had told the Bench that his right against self-incrimination as well as his right to get himself adequately represented by a counsel to defend himself in the case had been violated during the trial.

The apex court had stayed Kasab's death sentence on October 10 last year.

In the special leave petition (SLP) against the Bombay High Court judgement, which confirmed his death sentence, Kasab had claimed he was brainwashed like a "robot" into committing the crime in the name of "God" and pleaded that he did not deserve the death penalty keeping in view his young age.

Kasab, who is lodged in Arthur Road Prison in Mumbai, had filed the SLP through the jail authorities.

He was sentenced to death by a special anti-terror court on May 6, 2010.

The Bombay high court had upheld on February 21 last year the trial court's order of death sentence to the Pakistani terrorist for the "brutal and diabolical" attacks aimed at "destabilizing" the government.

Kasab's death penalty was upheld on charges of criminal conspiracy, waging war against the nation and various other provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the anti-terror law --Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The high court had confirmed Kasab's conviction on 19 counts under the IPC, the Arms Act, the Explosives Act, the Explosive Substances Act, the Foreigners Act, the Passport Act and the Railway Act. PTI




26/11 survivors, victims' kin hail court verdict

Mumbai: Survivors and kin of victims of the 26/11 terror attacks today hailed the Supreme Court judgment upholding the death sentence of Ajmal Kasab, the only surviving Pakistani terrorist behind the strike. "I'm more than happy. I know my husband is not going to return, but it gives some peace to my soul that the perpetrator of the crime has been punished even if he is just a pawn," said Ragini Sharma, wife of Sushikumar Sharma, a ticket inspector at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, who was among the 166 people killed in the carnage.

"However, I feel he (Kasab) should be executed within a month and not given a chance to make an appeal to the President of India, considering the heinous nature of his crime," she said.

Mohammed Hanif Peer Mohammed, 69, who lost his brother in the attacks, agreed.

"Although the judgement is out and the accused has been found guilty, I want to see him hanged to death," he said.

Sachin Bhonsale, son of slain assistant sub-inspector Balasaheb Bhonsale, said: "I'm glad is all I can say. Although late, I feel my father's death did not go waste."

"However, Kasab should be hanged at the earliest without any kind of waiting for providing him with an opportunity to appeal further," he said.

Bhonsale said that instead of executing Kasab, he should be handed over to the survivors and kin of the victims.

"Give his custody to people like us, people who have survived the attack or those who have lost their most loved ones. We will take good care of him," he said.

Police officer Sanjay Govilkar said he was glad that the Indian judicial system had once again proved that it would not tolerate any attack on the nation.

Columnist Bhisham Mansukhani, who escaped the attack at the Taj Hotel, however, said the Kasab saga would continue.

"Having to deal with incompetent people at the top, we will continue to be haunted by the ghastly 26/11 anniversary stories and the attention Kasab will continue to gain until he is hanged," he said. IANS





Former Gujarat minister, 31 others convicted in
Naroda-Patiya riots case 

Ahmedabad: BJP MLA and former minister in the Narendra Modi government Maya Kodnani and a Bajrang Dal leader were among 32 persons convicted by a special court today in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riots case in which 97 people belonging to the minority community were killed.

Additional principal judge Jyotsna Yagnik held Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi guilty under sections 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) and 302 (murder) of IPC in the post-Godhra riots case, while acquitting 29 others.

The quantum of sentence is likely to be announced on August 31. The prosecution has demanded death sentence for all the accused convicted in the Naroda Patiya case.

The massacre had taken place a day after the Godhra train burning incident of February 27, 2002.

On February 28, 2002 when a bandh call was given by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a large crowd gathered in the Naroda Patiya area and attacked people belonging to minority community that resulted in the death of 97 people while 33 others were injured in the violence.

The trial began in August 2009 and charges were framed against 62 accused, one of the accused, Vijay Shetty, died during the course of trial.

As many as 327 witnesses, comprising eye witnesses, victims, doctors, police personnel, government officials, forensic experts and journalists including Ashish Khetan, who conducted a TV sting operation on the accused, have been examined by the court.

Initially, 46 people were arrested by the Gujarat Police, whereas 24 more people were apprehended after the probe was handed over to the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) in 2008. In all, 70 people were arrested in the case.

Six persons died before the charges could be framed and trial started, while two others identified as Mohan Nepali and Tejas Pathak jumped bail and are still absconding.

Kodnani was arrested by the SIT when she was a minister of state for women and child development in Modi government in March 2009. She was an MLA at the time of the incident.

The Naroda Patiya case was probed by eight investigating officers over the last decade with the latest being Himanshu Shukla on behalf of the Special Investigation Team (SIT).

The Naroda Patiya case was one of the nine cases of Gujarat riots being probed by the SIT, including the Godhra train burning case.
The other cases probed by SIT where judgements have been pronounced include the case in Ode village of Anand where 18 persons were sentenced to life imprisonment and five others to seven years in prison by a special court last month, for the killing of 23 persons on March 1, 2002.

Last year, a special court had awarded death sentence to 11 and life imprisonment to 20 others in the Godhra train burning case where 59 persons were burnt alive in S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express train near Godhra railway station.

Also, 31 persons were sentenced to life imprisonment by another designated court of Mehsana district in connection with Sardarpura riot case where 33 persons were killed during post-Godhra riots.

On July 30, 21 accused were sentenced to life imprisonment by a special court in another case of Dipda Darwaja area of Mehsana, where 11 persons were killed during 2002 riots. PTI




PM to hold talks with Iranian President today

Tehran: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who arrived in the Iranian capital Tehran on Tuesday, will hold talks with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday.

PM Singh is here to attend the 16th NAM summit but will use the opportunity to hold bilateral talks with the top Iranian leadership and firm up ties.

Apart from Ahmadinejad, Singh will also hold talks with Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The visit is the first in a decade to Iran by an Indian Prime Minister after Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited the country in 2001.

Singh's bilateral meetings with Khamenei and Ahmadinejad assume significance as they will take place at a time when the US is pushing India to reduce engagement with Iran and implement sanctions imposed by some countries over its controversial nuclear programme.

On the sidelines of the summit of 120 non-aligned nations, Singh will also hold meetings with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Egypt's first civilian President, Mohammed Mursi.Back




Gurdwara shooter's death declared suicide

Washington: The death of a white supremacist who killed six Sikh worshippers during a shooting rampage at a US Gurdwara has been declared a suicide.

However, the police investigators are yet to determine the reason for the crime, which shocked the entire Sikh community not only in the US and India, but also globally.

Michael Wade Page, 40, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head after he killed six worshippers and wounded three others as they prepared for Sunday services at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek on August 5.

Investigators initially thought a responding officer killed Page with a gun shot to the stomach.

But days later, authorities said Page shot himself in the head with his handgun after the officer shot and wounded Page in the abdomen.

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's office released its investigation report on Page yesterday and ruled that his death was a suicide.

Page, a US Army veteran, had links to racist groups and was a member of a number of white power bands with names such as End Apathy and Definite Hate.

In its report, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's office said that Page's sister told investigator that he had a history of alcohol problems and underwent a personality change in the year before the shooting spree.Back




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