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Death for terror trio

Ahmedabad, July 1: An anti-terrorism court today sentenced to death three of the accused in the Akshardham temple attack four years ago, in which 33 people died.

Adam Ajmeri, 43, Abdul Qayumm alias Mufti Mansuri, 35, and Chand Khan, 33, received the death sentence.

Mohammed Salim Sheikh, 36, was sentenced to life imprisonment; Abdul Miya Yasin Qadri, 45, received a 10-year term and Altaf Hussain Malek, 33, five years for the September 24, 2002, attack on the temple six months after the post-Godhra riots.

The families of the accused milled outside as the verdict was pronounced by judge Sonia Gokani inside Sabarmati Central Jail.

The judge said: “The killing of innocent devotees at Akshardham falls in the category of the rarest of rare cases.”

As the court delivered the judgment, the accused remained calm. “Allah jo karta hai, thik karta hai (whatever Allah does is right),” public prosecutor Sudhir Brahmabhatt quoted them as saying.

Advocate Javed Khan Pathan, representing Chand Khan, said he would move the Supreme Court.

Swami Vivek Jeevan of the Akshardham temple said: “We have chosen not to react.”

Two militants had stormed the temple complex, firing indiscriminately and blasting grenades, killing 29 devotees and injuring 81. Four commandos died in the nightlong exchange of fire.

The commandos broke the siege after the two militants, said to belong to an arm of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, were killed.

The letter found on the suicide attackers was allegedly drafted by Qadri. Chand Khan was charged with transporting weapons and escorting the militants from Srinagar to Ahmedabad.

Ajmeri, an auto-rickshaw driver, had taken the two around the city. The militants had offered namaz at Dariapur mosque in the presence of Mufti Mansuri on the attack day.

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