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13 convicted for plotting murders of BJP leaders, cops, journos

india Updated: Sep 16, 2016 07:04 IST
Rajesh Ahuja

A special court in Bengaluru convicted 13 for the inter-state assassination plot. The quantum of sentence will be decided on Friday.(Representative Photo/AFP)

A Bengaluru special court on Thursday convicted 13 people accused of planning to assassinate BJP leaders, police officers and journalists in Bengaluru, Hubli, Hyderabad and Nanded.

According to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), BJP Lok Sabha members Pratap Simha and Prahlad Joshi, editor of Kannada Prabha Vishveswara Bhat, senior police officials B Dayananda, DM Krishnamraju and Nyame Gowda, and Bajrang Dal leader Ganu Jartarkar were on the hit list.

The court will decide on the quantum of sentence on Friday.

The case was initially investigated by the Karnataka Police, but later transferred to the NIA given its international ramifications.

Investigators found that some members of the banned terrorist outfits — the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Harkar-ul-Jehad al-Islami (HUJI) — based in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, hatched a conspiracy to carry out target killings in Bengaluru, Hubli, Hyderabad and Nanded with the help of their operatives in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. The conspiracy was hatched between 2010 and 2012.

At least two convicts — Zafar Iqbal Sholapur and Abdul Hakeem Jamadar — had visited Pakistan via Iran as they wanted to join Afghanistan Taliban forces to fight US troops. But the LeT and officials of the Pakistani spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), met them in Karachi, and told them to collect intelligence from India.

The NIA filed charges against 14 accused persons, of which a Zakir, alias Ustad, is still at large.

Two accused — a journalist Motiur Rehman Siddiqui and a Defence Research and Development Organisation employee Azaz Ahmad Mirza — were acquitted as the NIA didn’t find evidence against them.

According to NIA officials, Dr Sabeel Ahmed, whose brother Kafeel Ahmed died while trying to blow up the Glasgow airport in the United Kingdom in 2007, is also a wanted in the case.

Sources said was detained in Saudi Arabia, and the process of his deportation to India is on. Dr Ahmed has denied the charges.