2 Jun 2010

Death penalty for Akshardham temple attackers: High Court

Affirming the lower court decision relating to the conviction of those who attacked Akshardham temple in in 2002 and killing over thirty people, the Gujarat High Court in a detailed decision confirmed the award of death penalty to three terrorists; ADAMBHAI SULEMANBHAI AJMERI, ABDULKAYUM @ MUFTISAAB MOHMEDBHAI MANSURI, and SHAANMIYA @ CHANDKHAN SAJJADKHAN. 

The High Court noted the incident which took place in the following terms;
4. The criminal prosecution against the aforesaid six accused persons and other absconding and dead accused arose from an incident of terrorist attack on Akshardham Temple at Gandhinagar on 24th September 2002. On Sunday, the 24th day of September 2002 at around 4:40 in the afternoon, two persons armed with AK 56 rifles, hand grenades, ammunition, etc., entered the temple precinct over the Gate No. 3. The said two persons [hereinafter referred to as, the Fidayins ] opened indiscriminate firing near the entertainment area of the temple where several people had gathered to enjoy various rides. From there, the fidayins turned towards the temple. They opened fire at the pilgrims and visitors. They also entered the museum area where there was concentration of people. They threw hand grenades. The aforesaid attack continued all throughout the night until the wee hours of 25th September 2002. The attack could be arrested only after the National Security Guard Commandos [hereinafter referred to as, the NSG Commandos ] took over the entire temple area and till both the Fidayins died in the counter attack by the NSG commandos. In the said incident, thirty three people lost their life and eighty six people sustained injuries. Two dead bodies which could not be identified were believed to be that of the Fidayins. The people who lost their life included young and old; men and women and also an unborn child.
Noting the detail in which the conspiracy to attack the temple was hatched, the law relating to confessions, criminal conspiracy and the principles to be considered for award of death sentence to conclude in the following terms;
147. We have considered the charge against the accused, the evidence on record, the legal provisions and the law settled in the above referred judgments.
148. We are of the opinion that the offence of criminal conspiracy of mass killing of Hindus in Gujarat; of promoting enmity between the two groups on ground of religion; of inviting support for a terrorist organization; of arranging and managing meeting/s to support terrorist organization; of inviting another to provide money, of receiving money and of providing money for the purpose of terrorism; of use of prohibited arms and explosives; of terrorist act of mass killing without provocation; of attempt to murder and of abetment are established. It is established that some persons, presumably of foreign origin [Pakistan & Saudi Arabia], decided to wreak vengeance for the loss suffered by the muslims during the communal riots that broke out in the State of Gujarat after some 50 Kar Sevaks were burnt alive at Godhra in Sabarmati Express train on 27th September 2002. They made a master plan of mass killing of Hindus in the State of Gujarat. To carry out their plan to retaliate, those originators targeted the young muslims from India and particularly from Gujarat working in Saudi Arabia to earn their livelihood. They instigated young muslims from Gujarat to become members of the terrorist groups Jaish-E-Mohammed and/or Lashker-e-Toiba . They were, by aggressive address and fiery speech, instigated to rise to fight for Islam and in the name of Islam to target the Hindus. They were shown video clippings of the loss of property and person suffered by the muslims in the communal riots. They were made to make contribution for carrying out the criminal conspiracy hatched by them. These young muslims knowingly became party to the conspiracy, made contribution and collected funds and passed over to Jaish-E-Mohammad to carry out the conspiracy. They also assisted in carrying out the conspiracy by distributing pamphlets and the cassettes containing Jihadi literature. Some of them picked up the cause actively and became active party to the conspiracy. Not only they contributed to the fund, they also contributed man-hours and used their contacts in Ahmedabad to further the conspiracy. Ultimately, with the funds, aid and assistance provided by the young muslims working in Saudi Arabia, their contacts and relations in the city of Ahmedabad, the active members of the Jaish-E-Mohammed from Hyderabad and Kashmir, carried the conspiracy to its logical end i.e., of mass killing of Hindus by choosing the most appropriate place i.e., Akshardham. Those killed in the massacre were innocent, unsuspecting Hindus who happened to have visited the Akshardham temple on the fateful day and time; some for religious purpose, some for site-seeing and some may have visited the temple for a pleasant evening. They fell victim to a meticulously planned criminal conspiracy and died or were injured at the hands of the Fidayins [two unknown persons of unknown origin] for no reason whatsoever.
We believe that apart from the aforesaid obvious victims of the crime, the accused themselves are the victims of the same crime originated by the foreign nationals on the foreign land to which they are party. The accused got involved with full knowledge of what was the aim of the conspiracy and what would be the consequences. They enthusiastically carried out their part of the conspiracy ruthlessly without considering the consequence that would fall upon them and their families. We look at them as the victims of the religious fanaticism.
149. We are alive of the fact that these accused have a clean history. They do not have any criminal background or criminal antecedents. They are ordinary citizens of India. Some of them left their family in India and went to Saudi Arabia with a view to earning little more and to providing better life to their family. Instead, they are facing consequences of a gory crime because they sought solidarity with foreign nationals in the name of religion and Jihad. The gravity of the crime they have committed far outweigh these mitigating factors.
162. We end with a deep sense of sorrow. Some foreign nationals, presumably religious fanatics and members of the terrorist groups Jaish-E-Mohammed and Lashker-E-Toiba, out of hatred for Hindus, decided to commit crime against the Hindus in Gujarat and accomplished their ill-will without any loss to themselves. These foreign nationals utilized Indian nationals [the accused and the others] and their hard earned money to accomplish their cherished dream of massacre of the Hindus - the men, women and children of all ages and an unborn child too. This could have been avoided had the accused nos. 4 & 5 the community leaders been vigilant. Instead of fueling the hatred, they could have utilized their authority to pacify the people and to douse the sense of hatred. The carnage which could have easily been avoided was accomplished. 
163. Not only that those innocents and their family members are the only victims but the accused before the Court too are the victims of the same crime as they are going to lose their life to the gallows or in jail. Their families will have to suffer for rest of their lives. We only wish that these young people who are easily lured into committing the crime in the name of religion are also made aware of the consequences that may befall upon them and their families. Their energy and idiosyncrasies could be diverted for constructive work for betterment of themselves and the society.
Have a look at the decision.

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