The six accused in the 2002 Akshardham Temple attack case, who were recently acquitted by the Supreme Court, on Monday, demanded compensation from the Gujarat government for "wrongly implicating them in the crime."
At a press conference in Mumbai, organised by 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 acquitted all the six, including three condemned prisoners, in the 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 (POTA).
Ajmeri and Mansuri were awarded death by the trial court; others were given jail terms ranging from ten years to life. The SC, however, acquitted all of them.
Gulzar Azmi, secretary, Legal Cell, Jamiat Ulama Maharashtra, demanded compensation for the accused saying most of them had spent over ten years in jail. He was accompanied by the team of lawyers comprising Khalid Shaikh, Ejaz Qureshi, Ansar Tamboli and Shahid Nadeem Ansar, who had represented the accused.
"I had been working in Saudi Arabia for 13 years when they picked me up alleging there was some problem with my passport. They beat me up brutally; I still have scars on my back, and I suffered a fracture on my foot," said Mohammed Salim Shaikh, one of those acquitted.
"Our lives have been ruined because of the case and we are left nowhere," another accused said.
Maulana Mustaqeem Ahsan Azmi, the president of Jamiat Ulama E Maharashtra, said Jamiat had been providing legal aid to youths arrested in terror cases across the nation. The 2002 Akshardham terror attack had claimed 32 lives.
The SC, while acquitting the six, had held that the sanction for prosecution under POTA had been mechanical and reflected lack of application of mind, and hence void. It also said the confessions of the accused had been 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.