Akshardham terror case: POTA court acquits two remaining accused

Written by PTI | Ahmedabad | Updated: Jun 7 2014, 03:19am hrs
A special POTA court here today acquitted the remaining two accused in the Akshardham temple terror attack case, three weeks after the Supreme Court let off six accused, rejecting the prosecution's charge of their involvement in the conspiracy.

Special POTA (Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act) Court judge Geeta Gopi ordered acquittal of Majid Patel alias Umarji and Shaukatullah Ghori holding they were not involved in the conspiracy behind the suicide attack at the temple in Gandhinagar on September 24, 2002 which had claimed more than 30 lives.

The two were charged with conspiracy by the city crime branch and had been lodged in Sabarmati jail for six years.

Drawing from the Supreme Court verdict, the POTA court too did not accept the testimony of witness Ashfaq Bhavnagri.

Patel, who was accused of managing funds for the attack, was held in 2008 from Bharuch district of Gujarat while co-accused Ghori was arrested from Hyderabad the same year.

Earlier, during the hearing, the prosecution referred to the Supreme Court judgement and said it had refused to rely on Bhavnagari's statement and rejected the conspiracy charge against the accused.

"The Supreme Court did not believe the contention of the state agency and declined to believe the conspiracy part," Special Public Prosecutor H M Dhruv had told the POTA court.

Dhruv said the statement of Bhavnagari, which the prosecution had relied upon to make a case against the accused, was not taken as evidence by the apex court.

Advocates M M Sheikh and Khalid Sheikh, who appeared for the accused, said Patel and Ghori had been falsely implicated in the case.

A division bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justices A K Patnaik and V Gopala Gowda, had on May 16 acquitted six other accused in the case, including two on death row.

Allowing the appeals of Adam Suleman Ajmeri and Abdul Kayum, who had achallenged their conviction under POTA and IPC Section 302, the court had held that the prosecution failed to establish their involvement in any conspiracy.

Altaf Mallick, Abdulmiya Kadri, Mohammad Hanif Shaikh and Chand Khan aka Shan Miya, who were serving jail terms varying from ten years to life imprisonment, were also acquitted.

Two suicide attackers armed with hand grenades and automatic rifles had stormed Akshardham temple of the Swaminarayan sect at Gandhinagar on September 24, 2002, killing over 30 people and wounding many more. The attackers were later killed in counter action by NSG commandos.