ALLAHABAD – A special court in Allahabad on Tuesday pronounced its verdict in the 2005 Ayodhya terror attack case. The court sentenced four out of five accused to life term imprisonment.
Special judge Dinesh Chandra also imposed a fine of Rs 2.4 lakh on each of the convicts, public prosecutor Gulab Chandra Agrahari told reporters.
The terror attack on July 5, 2005 had left two locals dead and injured seven paramilitary personnel. Five suspected JeM terrorists were eliminated by security forces in retaliatory action.
At that time, UP Police had arrested five people, Irfan, Ashiq Iqbal alias Farooque, Shakeel Ahmed, Mohammad Naseem and Mohammad Aziz, in the case. Presently, they are lodged at Naini jail in Allahabad.
The five accused were arrested for conspiracy and providing logistic and material help to terror suspects. Terrorists were gunned down at the site of incident.
In Tuesday’s verdict, the special court sentenced Irfan, Ashiq Iqbal alias Farooque, Shakeel Ahmed and Mohammad Naseem to life term imprisonment and charged them a fine of Rs 40,000 each. Mohammad Aziz has been found not guilty.
The verdict came after 14 years of legal proceedings, during which 63 prosecution witnesses were examined by the court through video conferencing from Naini jail.
On July 5, 2005, the heavily guarded Ram Janmabhoomi – Babri Masjid complex was attacked by armed terrorists. The attack was foiled by security officials and the attackers were killed after an hour-long encounter. The terrorists posed as pilgrims on their way to Ayodhya and boarded a Tata Sumo at Akbarpur near the Kichaucha village in Faizabad. At Faizabad they abandoned the Sumo and hired a jeep driven by a driver, Rehan Alam Amsari.
According to a statement by the driver, the terrorists visited the Ram Temple at Ayodhya in the morning of July 5, 2005 where they prayed for recce and to ensure that everything is in place.
The terrorists then drove the jeep into the Ram Janmabhoomi site, and forced the driver out of the vehicle, banging the jeep against the security cordon. They also threw a grenade at the site.
Ramesh Pandey, a pilgrim guide who happened to be near the site at that moment died on the spot as a result of the grenade blast. Then the five terrorists entered the Mata Sita Rasoi and fired continuously. To stop them a platoon of 35 CRPF soldiers killed all five of the terrorists in a gunfight that lasted for over an hour.
Seven CRPF soldiers also received serious injuries and all the terrorists died within 100 meters of the site. The investigating team tracked the phone calls made from the cell phones carried by the terrorists using the IMEI numbers.
The police recovered a single RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launcher, five type 56 assault rifles, five M1911 pistols, several M67 grenades and some jihadi documents.
On August 3, 2005, four suspects- Asif Iqbal, Mohammed Aziz, Mohammed Nasim and Shaqeel Ahmed- were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the bombing. A fifth man, Irfan Khan, was arrested a few days later.