Red Fort attack: LeT militant’s death sentence upheld (Second Lead)

August 11th, 2011 - 12:59 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 10 (IANS) Terming the Dec 22, 2000, Red Fort assault as “an attack on Mother India”, the Supreme Court Wednesday upheld the death sentence awarded to Lashkar-e-Taiba militant Mohammad Arif alias Ashfaq, a Pakistani national, for the terror raid in which two army men and a civilian were killed.

“This is a unique case where there is one most aggravating circumstance that it was a direct attack on the unity, integrity and sovereignty of India by foreigners,” said Justice V.S. Sirpurkar and Justice T.S. Thakur, constituting an apex court bench hearing the case.

Justice Sirpurkar said: “Thus, it was an attack on Mother India.”

Dismissing Arif’s appeal, the court upheld the death sentence awarded to him by a trial court in 2005 and confirmed by the Delhi High Court in 2007.

Justice Sirpurkar said: “The appeal is dismissed. Death sentence upheld.”

The judges said Arif was a foreign national and entered India without any authorisation or even justification.

Arif built up a conspiracy by practicing deceit and committing various other offences in furtherance of the conspiracy to wage war against India as also to commit murders by launching an unprovoked attack on the soldiers of Indian Army, the court said.

The conspiracy to attack the Indian Army unit stationed in the Red Fort and the consequent unprovoked attack cannot be described excepting as waging war against India, the court said.

The court referred to its (apex court) earlier judgment which said: “The challenge to the unity, integrity and sovereignty of India by these acts of terrorists and conspirators can only be compensated by giving the maximum punishment to the person who is proved to be the conspirator in this treacherous act.”

The attack on the members of the armed forces was an additional circumstance that would “justify the death sentence”, the judges said.

“We, therefore, have no doubts that death sentence was the only sentence in the peculiar circumstance of this case. We, therefore, confirm the judgment of the trial court and the high court convicting the accused and awarding death sentence for the offences under section 302 (murder), IPC (Indian Penal Code),” the judges said.

“We also confirm all the other sentences on all other counts and dismiss these appeals,” they said.

Arif was convicted for murder, waging war against the government of India, and conspiracy.

Pakistani national Arif entered India in 1999 after extensive weapons training. In order to acquire an Indian identity he married a local woman 14 days before the Red Fort attack, according to prosecution.

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