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Court convicts 7 for Red Fort attack
October 24, 2005 17:48 IST
Nearly five years after terrorists stormed the historic Red Fort in Delhi killing two jawans and a civilian, a Delhi court on Monday convicted Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayiba miltant Mohammad Arif alias Ashfaq and six others while acquitting four accused. Ashfaq and his key Indian conspirators Nazir Ahmed Qasid and his son Farooq Ahmad Qasid have been found guilty of waging war against the state, which can attract a death sentence.
The amount of the punishment will be pronounced on October 29. Delivering the verdict in a packed courtroom, additional sessions Judge O P Saini, also held Ashfaq guilty of murder, criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and illegal possesion of arms and ammunition. The Pakistani national was also convicted for illegally entering and staying in India under the Foreigners Act. Nazir and Farooq have also been convicted for criminal conspiracy. The lone woman accused in the attack on December 22, 2000, and Ashfaq's Indian wife Rahamana Yousuf Farooqui was found guilty under sections 216 (harbouring an offender) and 218 (trying to save a person from punishment) of the Indian Penal Code for providing shelter to the LeT militant.
However, the court acquitted her of the charges of waging war against the country and the conspiracy to attack 17th century Mughal monument.
The court also convicted Babar Mohsin Baghwala, Saddaqat Ali and Matloob Alam for their complicity in the attack. Those acquitted for want of evidence are Rajeev Kumar Malhotra, Devender Singh, Moolchand Sharma and Shahanshah Alam.
Sadaqat had provided shelter to Ashfaq at Gafoor Nagar in South Delhi's Okhla where they jointly ran an internet cafe for a month before the attack. They were also in touch with the other accused in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan. It was at Baghwala's house in Srinagar that the Ashfaq, Nazir Qasid and Farooq Qasid plotted the attack. Matloob Alam, a ration shop owner was pronounced guilty for helping Ashfaq in procuring a fake ration card using forged documents, which he used for establishing his Indian citizenship.
The prosecution could not prove the accusations against Malhotra, Devender and Shehanshah Alam that they provided a driving license to Ashfaq, resulting in their acquittal. Lashkar-e-Tayiba militants sneaked into the 17th century monument at around 9.00 PM on December 22, 2000 and fired indiscriminately on the guards of the 7th Battalion of Rajputana Rifles stationed there killing jawans Abdullah Thakur, Uma Shankar and civilian Ashok Kumar.
Five minutes after the attack, Ashfaq had informed "his masters in Pakistan" and some media organisations through his cell phone that the "mission has been accomplished". Its intercepts had helped the police to close in on him. Police had recovered one AK 47 assault rifle, used in the shootout near Vijay Ghat behind the Red Fort and some Indian currency notes near Matia Mahal police picket from where the militants fled after the incident. Ashfaq and Rehmana were arrested following an encounter in Jamia Nagar area of South Delhi four days later.
The case was registered at the Kotwali police station in the walled city on a complaint by Captain S P Patwardhan, Adjutant of the Rajputana Rifles. Prosecution examined 235 witnesses to prove their case.