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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

Ayodhya Terror Attack: Life term for four, one acquitted in 2005 case

All the accused are presently lodged in the Naini Central Jail in Prayagraj.

india Updated: Jun 19, 2019 08:14 IST
Jitendra Sarin
Jitendra Sarin
Hindustan Times, Prayagraj
Gavel and law books
Gavel and law books(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A special court in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj, formerly known as Allahabad, on Tuesday sentenced four men to life imprisonment and acquitted a fifth in a case related to a terror attack 14 years ago on the makeshift Ram temple in Ayodhya.

The men were accused of providing logistic and material help to five terrorists who attacked the temple in the holy city on July 5, 2005, and were gunned down by security forces. The police had charged them with murder, criminal conspiracy and waging war against the state for the attack in which two civilians were killed.

The special court of judge Dinesh Chandra handed down the life sentence to four men, identified as Irfan, Ashiq Iqbal alias Farooque, Shakeel Ahmed and Mohammad Naseem, and also fined them a collective ~2.4 lakh. Mohammad Aziz, the fifth suspect, was acquitted for lack of evidence.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath welcomed the conviction of the four persons and sought a review of the decision to acquit Aziz.

The makeshift temple in Ayodhya stands on the disputed site where the 16th century Babri mosque stood until it was demolished in December 1992 by a mob. Hindu groups claim the disputed site to be Ram Janmabhoomi, or the birthplace of the warrior-god Ram.

During investigation, it was found that the terrorists, who attacked makeshift temple and were shot to death by security forces, were from Pakistani terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and were suspected to have entered India through Nepal.

According to a statement by the driver who took the terrorists to the location, the men visited the shrine on the morning of July 5, 2005, when they first did a recce of the area. They then took the vehicle to the Ram Janmabhoomi site, forced the driver out of the vehicle and rammed it into a security cordon. They also threw a grenade at the site.

A pilgrim-guide, Ramesh Pandey, and another person who happened to be near the site at the moment died on the spot when the grenade exploded. The five terrorists then entered an area called the Mata Sita Rasoi (kitchen) and fired bullets indiscriminately. Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers killed all the five terrorists in a gunfight that lasted for over an hour.

After the attack, Uttar Pradesh police arrested the five people, who are lodged in Naini jail, where the case was heard because of security reasons.

First Published: Jun 18, 2019 16:17 IST