|Ashfaq and wife Rehmana
New Delhi, Oct. 31: Rehmana Yousuf Farooqui’s cries to spare her husband but hang her from the Red Fort went unheard as Mohammad Arif was today ordered to be hanged to death for a “rarest of rare” crime.
The Lashkar-e-Toiba militant, also called Ashfaq, and six others were convicted last week for the December 2000 storming of the Red Fort in which two jawans of the Rajputana Rifles and a civilian were shot dead.
Additional sessions judge .P. Saini this morning refused to be distracted by Ashfaq who frantically tried to draw his attention in the courtroom by waving a piece of paper and shouting before the sentence was pronounced.
“I direct that he (Ashfaq) shall be hanged by neck till he is dead'. This is a case where life imprisonment would be inadequate and ends of justice would be served only by awarding death sentence,” the judge observed calmly.
“Not only such dastardly acts are being committed with increased frequency these days in which many people are being killed with impunity.' This needs to be curbed with a heavy hand. Death sentence is one such deterrent measure.”
Verdict delivered twice over, first in Hindi and then in English, Saini turned to Ashfaq ' who was listening with his eyes closed ' and asked him to hand over his petition.
Scribbled on the piece of paper was Ashfaq’s offer to donate blood to persons wounded in the weekend Delhi blasts that killed 59 people in the run-up to Diwali.
“This is a highly mischievous application to get the public’s sympathy,” special public prosecutor Bakshi Singh said. Police declined comment on any link between the sentence and the blasts.
Ashfaq was given death for waging war against the country and murder under IPC Sections 121 and 302.
He was also awarded a life term under the Explosive Substances Act, 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment for conspiracy to wage war, seven years’ RI for cheating, another seven for forgery, and a five-year term under the Foreigners Act. He was fined Rs 4.35 lakh.
Ashfaq’s wife Rehmana, found guilty of harbouring an offender and trying to save an offender from punishment, was awarded seven years’ RI. Last Monday, she had pleaded with the court for her husband’s life.
Co-conspirators Nazir Ahmed Qasid and son Farooq Ahmed Qasid were given life imprisonment for waging war against the state. Three others ' Babar Mohsin Baghwala, Sadaqat Ali and Matloob Alam ' were given seven years’ RI for complicity in the attack.