A designated POTA court in Ahmedabad convicted 22 persons and acquitted as many in a terror conspiracy case to avenge the post-Godhra 2002 riots in Gujarat.
In the case filed in 2003, these 44 people were accused of being involved in jihadi activities with the support of the Inter Services Intelligence.
The special court of Jyothsna Yagnik, operating from the Sabarmati Central Jail where the accused were lodged, sentenced 18 to 10 years’ imprisonment. Three got nine years and one a three-year jail term.
“The case relates to the conspiracy hatched by terrorists after the Godhra riots in connivance with international terrorist groups such as the JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammed) and LeT Lashkar-e-Tayebba)… (and) the support they received from Pakistan’s ISI,” Special Public Prosecutor J.M. Panchal said.
Of the 22 convicted, 21 are from the city and one from Mumbai.
Most of the 22 acquitted, for want of evidence, are from Hyderabad. The accused were charged with illegally crossing over to Pakistan for training to unleash terror to avenge the 2002 riots. They were also accused of plotting to kill Gujarat leaders, including Chief Minister Narendra Modi, besides hatching various conspiracies in the state.
Thirty-six other accused, including underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, his aide Chhota Shakeel and Rasool Party and Mufti Sufiyan Patangia are absconding.
The prosecution said the ISI played a key role in selecting the accused and taking them to Pakistan. The defence contested the charge, claiming the city crime branch illegally detained the accused much before their arrest was shown on record.
(With inputs from agencies)