Residents of Batla House on Tuesday expressed their happiness that the judge spared Shahzad, convicted of killing inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, the gallows.
A file photo of suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) terrorist Shahzad Ahmed being produced in a court in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)
But they decided to move the high court against the life term awarded to him. To ensure a "fair trial" to Shahzad, the residents have decided to pool in resources to hire a good lawyer.
A number of local residents staged a peace march outside the Jamia Nagar police station, demanding justice for Shahzad.
"We respect the court's verdict but will contest it as we are not happy with it. We will ensure that the best lawyers are roped in to argue for Shahzad in the high court. The entire community has decided to pool in money. We will start the collection tomorrow," said Wasim Ansari, a resident of Batla House.
A number of residents were happy with the fact that Shahzad has not been given death sentence.
"Our area has been labelled in the name of the encounter. We will do everything to change that perception," said Arif Ahmad, a resident of the area.
The Jamia Teachers' Solidarity Association (JTSA), which had raised questions over the veracity of the encounter, has called press conference.
"We are not satisfied with the verdict," said Manisha Sethi of JTSA.
Shahzad's grandfather Iftikhar Ahmed told HT over the phone from Azamgarh that he would challenge the verdict in the high court.
"That he has not been given death sentence is indeed relief for us. But this doesn't mean that we have accepted that he is guilty," said Ahmed.
Javed Alam of an Azamgarh-based civil liberty group, which was providing legal support to Shahzad, also said he would challenge the verdict.
Azamgarh was turned into a fortress on Tuesday. Traffic restrictions were imposed in the main city areas, including Shahzad's village Khalispur. Given the tight security arrangements, local residents apprehended that the court would pronounce the death sentence for Shahzad.
"We are happy that he has not been sentenced to death. We will continue the legal battle and get justice one day," said Shifa Siraj, Shahzad's sister.
(With inputs by Gulam Jeelani in Lucknow)