Akshardham Terror Attack: Remaining 2 acquitted by POTA Court

Akshardham Terror Attack: Remaining 2 acquitted by POTA Court

After the acquittal of six accused in the Akshardham terror attack by a Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice V. Gopala Gowda, earlier in May, Judge Geeta Gopi of Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) Court in Ahmedabad on Friday declared the remaining two accused as not guilty.

With the hearing concluded on May 23, Majid Patel alias Umarji and Shaukatullah Ghori were acquitted by the special POTA court. Patel was accused of managing funds for the terror attack. He was arrested from Bharuch district in 2008 while Ghori was arrested from Hyderabad the same year.

Special Public Prosecutor reportedly brought the issue of the Supreme Court judgment and contended, "The Supreme Court did not believe the contentions made by the state agency and refused to believe the conspiracy part."  It was observed by the judge that the Supreme Court had refused to admit the confessions of the accused as evidence and negated their involvement in the attack or the alleged conspiracy. On this basis, the two accused were also declared not guilty.

The Akshardham temple was attacked on 24th September, 2002 by terrorists, killing 32 people and leaving behind close to 80 people injured, scarred for a lifetime, with the memories of attackers who opened fire and heaved grenades inside the temple complex. Two terrorists were gunned down by the National Security Guards, after a 14-hour catastrophe.

In 2010, division bench of Gujarat High Court comprising of Justices R M Doshit and K M Thakar had upheld the verdict delivered in 2006 by Judge Sonia Gokani of Special POTA Court, rejecting the appeal of the six convicts. The Gujarat High Court had identified the accused to be a part of the terrorist organizations of Jaish-E-Mohammed and Lashker-E-Toiba.

On May 16, a Supreme Court bench of Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice V. Gopala Gowda while acquitting the accused, the Court had expressed anguish about the incompetence with which the investigating agencies conducted the investigation of the case of such a grievous nature, involving the integrity and security of the Nation. Instead of booking the real culprits responsible for taking so many precious lives, the police caught innocent people and got imposed the grievous charges against them which resulted in their conviction and subsequent sentencing. Read the Livelaw story here.

The other acquitted persons had soon after the acquittal, declared their intention to demand compensation from the Gujarat Government and the then Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, for the long periods of confinement that they had to go through.  Jamiat Ulama-e-Maharashtra (AM) legal cell secretary Gulzar Azmi, had asserting that, “Not only should they be booked, they should be prosecuted so that an example is set for all such security officials booking innocent Muslim youth and ruining their lives forever”, referring to the security officials who acted illegally against the six acquitted people. This acquittal might strengthen the demands for compensation by all the accused.

Read the Live Law story here.