Jail for six in attack on Gujarat VHP leader

April 26th, 2008 - 2:03 pm ICT by admin  

Ahmedabad, April 26 (IANS) Six people were sentenced to five years jail by an anti-terrorist court here for attempting to kill Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Jaideep Patel in 2002. One person was acquitted by the Pota (Prevention of Terrorism Act) court Friday. The main conspirator, however, is still absconding.

Special Pota court judge N.A. Acharya also directed the convicts to pay Rs.5,000 and in case of default to undergo one year additional jail term.

Seven people had been convicted in the case - Shakil Ansari, Junaid Saiyed, Zahid Khan, Rauf Ansari, Rafiq Ansari, Sada Khan and Harris Ansari. Naushad Pathan was acquitted while main conspirator Abu Talha is absconding.

According to the public prosecutor the conspiracy was masterminded in 2003 by Abdul Rehman, Khalid alias Abu Talha of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to avenge the post-Godhra riots against Muslims of Gujarat.

Talha contacted Zahid Khan, a builder-contractor, in Juhapura area of the city. Khan got his two friends Harris Ansari and Junaid Ansari, residents of Juhapura, to join them in the conspiracy.

The two riding a motorcycle accosted Jaideep Patel, VHP Gujarat joint general secretary, in the Naroda area in the evening of Dec 3, 2002. The duo managed to corner Jaideep as his car was slowing near a speed-breaker and fired hitting him just below his left eye grievously wounding him.

Patel was rushed to a nearby hospital and after a surgery was declared out of danger. A few days later another surgery was performed which finally saved his life. Patel, a close associate of VHP general secretary Pravin Togadia, is one of the accused in the Feb 28 Naroda-Patiya massacre in which over 80 people, mostly labourers, were killed.

Apart from Jaideep the conspirators had Babu Bajrangi, who was then a Bajrang Dal activist, in their sights for his role in the Naroda Patiya massacre. Others like BJP MLA from Naroda Maya Kodnani, former state home minister Goverdhan Zadafiya and the then additional commissioner of police D.G. Vanzara too were in the crosspiece of conspiracy.

On Dec 30, 2002, on a tip off, the crime branch arrested Khan and Harris near Galaxy Cinema, Naroda. Interestingly the police first claimed that the accused were arrested by the prohibition department for illegal sale and purchase of liquor. Later police said that after two 9mm pistols and 36 cartridges were recovered from the duo it had “definite proof” of their involvement in Jaideep’s shoot-out.

Special public prosecutor H.M. Dhruv and Sudhir Brahmbhatt contended that all the accused supported terror strikes in the state. Four weapons were found with them and no leniency should be showed, the two had argued.

The court said the prosecution had proved the charge of carrying weapons in the notified area and the plot to kill VHP and BJP leaders.

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