Eleven years after the gruesome terrorist attack at Akshardham Temple at Gandhinagar, 2 culprits had been killed and 6 plotters have been brought to justice, however, at least 24 are still at large including the mastermind Abu Hamza.
After the terrorist attack on September 24, 2002 that killed 33 people including 2 National Security Guard (NSG) commandos, the investigation was handed over to detection of crime branch (DCB) of Ahmedabad police.
DCB had filed charge sheet against 34 people under the prevention of anti terrorists’ activities act (POTA) that included 2 terrorists which stormed the Akshardham temple at Gandhinagar and eventually gunned down by NSG. The attackers were later identified as Murtuza Hafiz Yasin and Ashraf Ali Mohammed Farooq, both Pakistan nationals and members of the Lashkar-e-Toiba.
The Akshardham case was the first in India in which the accused were convicted under POTA. The POTA court sentenced six accused or plotters in 2006 and in 2010 Gujarat High Court upheld the conviction by the special court.
As per the judgement, special court judge Sonia Gokani had sentenced Adam Suleman Ajmeri, Shan Miyan alias Chandkhan and Mufti Abdul Qaiyum to death for their active role in the Fidayeen terror attack. The other three accused, Mohammad Salim Shaikh was sentenced to life imprisonment while Abdulla Miyan Quadri and Altaf Hussain Malek were given jail terms of 10 and five years, respectively. However, against the High Court verdict the accused have filed a review petition in the Supreme Court which is pending for hearing.
Umarji alias Majid Patel, one of the accused in the case declared as absconding in charge sheet was later arrested in 2008 while Shaukatullah Ghauri, was arrested from Hyderabad in 2009.
Ghauri’s case is pending special court in Ahmedabad.
In its charge sheet DCB had identified 22 other individuals who provided ground, reconnaissance and logistics support to the attackers which was planned on foreign soil.
Some of the 22 others are still absconding includes Abu Hamza, Iqbal Patel, Farukh Mohammed Sheikh, Abdul Rashid Kadri, Mohammed Owais Kadri, Jahid, Gulam Laheri, Mustaqim, Akhtar Hussain, Maulvi Farhadulla Ghori, Abdul Rehman alias Abu Talah and Khalid, Abu Huzefa.