Six accused convicted by lower courts but acquitted recently by the Supreme Court in the 2002 Akshardham temple attack case, on Monday demanded compensation from the Gujarat government for "wrongly implicating them in the crime."
At a press conference organised in Mumbai by the Jamiat Ulama Maharashtra (Arshad Madani), which provided them free legal aid, the acquitted also demanded action against officers for prosecuting them. Five of the six accused -- Adam Ajmeri, Mufti Abdul Qyyum Mansuri, Mohammed Salim Shaikh, Abdulmiyan Qadri and Altaf Hussain -- were present at the press conference.
The Supreme Court on May 16 had acquitted all the six convicts, including three condemned prisoners, in the Akshardham case and pulled up the Gujarat police for shoddy investigation in the case in which all the accused faced prosecution under the stringent Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act.
While Ajmeri and Mansuri had been awarded death by the trial court, others had been given jail terms ranging from 10 years to life. However, the Supreme Court acquitted all of them.
Gulzar Azmi, secretary, legal cell, Jamiat Ulama Maharashtra, demanded compensation for the accused saying most of them had spent over 10 years in jail.
He was accompanied by a team of lawyers, Khalid Shaikh, Ejaz Qureshi, Ansar Tamboli and Shahid Nadeem Ansar, who represented the accused.
"I had been working in Saudi Arabia for 13 years, when they picked me up alleging there was a problem with my passport. They beat me brutally, I still have scars on my back, and I suffered a fracture in my foot," said acquitted accused Mohammed Salim Shaikh.
"Our lives have been ruined because of the case and we are left nowhere," another accused said.
President of the Jamiat Ulama E Maharashtra, Maulana Mustaqeem Ahsan Azmi, said the Jamiat has been providing legal aid to youths who have been arrested in terror cases across the nation. The 2002 Akshardham terror attack had claimed 32 lives.
The Supreme Court, while acquitting the six accused, said the sanction for prosecution under POTA was mechanical and reflected lack of application of mind, and hence void.
It also said the confessions of accused were recorded without following the procedure prescribed under POTA making them untenable as evidence.
The apex court bench had also said that the approvers' statement in the case had not been corroborated by independent evidence.