The life imprisonment to Shahzad Ahmad, the 2008 Batla House encounter case convict, has come as a relief for his family and friends, who were prepared for even the worse.
However, they are firm on challenging the conviction in higher courts.
“That he has not been given a death sentence is indeed a relief, but that doesn’t mean that we have accepted that he is guilty. The verdict would be challenged in higher courts,” Iftekhar Ahmad, Shahzad’s grandfather and former principal of Shibli College told HT on phone from Khalispur, Shahzad’s village in Azamgarh.
“My brother is innocent and we will challenge the verdict in the high court,” Shahzad’s sister Shifa, 22, said, adding, “The Batla House encounter was fake.”
Javed Alam, president of the Association for Welfare, Medical, Educational and Legal Assistance, (AWMELA), an Azamgarh-based civil group providing legal support to Shahzad also announced to challenge the Delhi court verdict in the high court.
Unlike Thursday, when Shahzad was convicted for killing Delhi police officer MC Sharma and injuring two others on September 19, 2008 in Batla House area of Jamia Nagar in New Delhi, Azamgarh town turned into virtual fortress on Tuesday.
Traffic restrictions were imposed in the main city areas leading to Khalispur and Sanjarpur, the village, where nine accused in the case hail from. Given the tight security arrangements, the locals apprehended that the court would pronounce death sentence for Shahzad.
“Restriction were put in place since 10am. We had thought that it would be a death sentence. But a life imprisonment has come as a relief for everybody here,” Masiuddin Sanjari, a local said.
“We are happy that he has not been sentenced to death. We will continue the legal battle and we will get justice one day,” Shifa Siraj, Shahzad’s sister said.
Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Azamgarh, Arvind Sen said the police had taken extra measures to ensure that no untoward incident takes place after the sentence.
Sen said that no incidents of protests were reported from anywhere in the district.
Shahzad was picked up by UP ATS on February 1, 2010 from his village Khalispur.
His father, Siraj Ahmad, works in Saudi Arabia. His mother Parveen, sisters Henna, Shifa and Sumbal, and brother Shahab live in Azamgarh city.
Shahzad completed his schooling from Jyoti Niketan School of Azamgarh, after which he sought admission for a computer course at Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi.