Court sentences six for terror attack plot
A National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Kochi on Wednesday awarded prison terms of three to 14 years to six people two days after convicting them of conspiring to carry out terror attacks in Kerala and neighbouring states in 2016.
Manseed Mohamed, Swaliah Mohammed, M Ramshad, P Safvan and Haja Moideen and Rashid Ali were convicted on Monday while the seventh accused, Jasim NK, was acquitted.
Mansheed Mohamed was awarded 14-year rigorous imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs 15,000 while Swaliah Mohamed and Subhani Haja Moideen were sentenced to 10 years in jail. The three other accused will serve jail terms ranging from eight to three years.
The case came to light in 2016 when the NIA raided a hideout in northern Kerala’s Kannur and said it busted a plan to carry out a series of attacks in Kerala and other states.
The NIA said that investigations revealed that the men were planning attacks on foreigners, especially Jewish tourists in Kochi and Kodikkanal, two high court judges, and senior leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and political parties.
Of the nine accused in the case, two are absconding. One of them is suspected to have been killed in a terror attack in Afghanistan two years ago, according to NIA.
All the accused were arrested under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) related to membership and support given to a terrorist organisation.
The court said they had not joined the IS terror group, but made it clear that they were qualified to be called as members of a terror gang.
The NIA prosecutor contended that the men formed a group on a social media to wage a war against the country, fomented tension between different communities and tried to attack important personalities.
During the investigation, the NIA said it also found that one of the accused, Moideen, returned from Syria after fighting for the IS in 2015.
Moideen, who later changed his name, was arrested from Tirunelveli (Tamil Nadu) two years ago.
During the hearing on quantum of punishment, the prosecution argued that the convicts should be awarded life imprisonment as they did not show any remorse or repentance to send across a message to society that such acts would be dealt with seriously.
Opposing the prosecution argument, the defence sought maximum leniency citing that no arms or ammunition were recovered from them.
During custodial interrogation, it was found that they had communicated with co-conspirators within and outside India over online social media platforms and had also collected funds to wage a war against the government, the NIA said.