A special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court on Tuesday sentenced Indian Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal and six others to life imprisonment for their involvement in the 2006 Aurangabad Arms Haul case.
The court also sentenced two other convicts in the case to 14 years imprisonment, and three others to eight years.
The sentence comes a week after the court had convicted 12, including Jundal, out of the 22 accused men in the case under various sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Arms Act, Explosives Substances Act, and the IPC on charges of bringing in consignments of arms, ammunition and explosives in Aurangabad in 2006 .
Eight of the 22 accused were acquitted, one of them is facing a separate trial and another is on the run.
While Jundal and the six others sentenced to life imprisonment were found guilty under UAPA, the remaining were sentenced for charges under the Explosive Substances Act, Arms Act, and criminal conspiracy under the IPC.
On Tuesday, while pronouncing the sentence, special Judge SL Anekar rejected the convict’ plea for leniency and said that considering the “gravity of the offence,” and the convicts’ apparent “lack of remorse,” the court had concluded that they deserved no compassion.
“The UAPA was amended in 2004 for the purpose of combating terrorism. Considering the potential effect of the offence in question, irrespective of the man’s religion or beliefs, those convicted under the UAPA Act deserve the maximum punishment of rigorous imprisonment for life. Showing any leniency to the convicts will result in allowing the society to suffer,” Judge Anekar said.
The other six convicts sentenced to life imprisonment are Mohd Amir Shaikh, Billal Ahmed, Afroz Khan, Faisal Shaikh, Aslam Kashmiri, Sayyed Aaqif.
The two convicts sentenced to 14 years imprisonment are Mohammed Muzaffar Tanvir, and Mohammed Sharif Shabbir.
Three other convicts — Mushtaq Ahmed Mohammed Iashaq, Javed Ahmed Abdul Majid Ansari, and Afzal Khan Nabi Khan — who were sentenced to eight years, have already served the sentence as undertrials, and will not be required to serve any additional sentence.
Last week, special judge Anekar had observed that the convicts had brought in the arms and ammunition to carry out a “larger conspiracy of assassinating Prime Minister Narendra Modi and VHP leader Praveen Togadia.”
He had accepted the prosecution’s claims that Mohammad Amir Shakil and Abu Jundal were the key conspirators in the case.