The Gujarat high court on Tuesday upheld the Prevention Of Terrorism Act court's verdict awarding the death sentence to three convicts for the 2002 Akashardham terror attack, which claimed 32 lives.
The division bench of Justices R M Doshit and K M Thakar, while pronouncing the judgment, rejected the appeal of six convicts against the POTA court's verdict. Three persons -- Adam Ajmeri, Shan Miya alias Chand Khan from Bareilly and Mufti Abdul Qyyum Mansuri -- were awarded the death sentence by the POTA court in July 2006.
The other three accused in the case were sentenced to various prison terms. While a local youth from Dariapur in the city, Mohammed Salim Shaikh, was sentenced to life imprisonment, Abdulmiyan Qadri was awarded a 10-year prison term and Altaf Hussain was sentenced to imprisonment for five years.
Two militants, identified as Murtuza Hafiz Yasin and Ashraf Ali Mohammed Farooq, were killed by National Security Guard commandoes during the attack on the temple in Gandhinagar on September 24, 2002.
The attackers, using automatic weapons and hand grenades, had killed 32 people, including 28 visitors, three commandos, including one from the NSG, and a constable of the State Reserve Police.
The judgment was pronounced in-camera and only the prosecution and the defence counsel were allowed.
The Akshardham case is the first in Indian legal history in which the accused were convicted under POTA. Twenty-eight accused in the case are still absconding. Most of them are from Pakistan or Gulf countries.
All accused allegedly had links with terrorist organisations like Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Pakistan's spy agency Inter Services Intelligence. One of the accused in the case, Shaukatullah Ghauri, was arrested from Hyderabad last year. The trial against Ghauri is pending.