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Calcutta HC: Acquits 4 Lashkar Terrorists, awarded capital punishment

Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Monday acquitted four Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists, including two Pakistani nationals, who were sentenced to death for waging war against the country, while convicting them of other offenses.

All four were found guilty of “conspiracy” to wage war against the Government of India and sentenced to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment.

Acquitting four persons charged under Section 121 of the IPC for waging war against the Government of India, a division bench headed by Justice Joymalya Bagchi ordered that two Pakistani nationals – Md Younus and Md Abdullah, who have already served their sentences, be sent back to their country.

The court ordered that of the two Indian nationals who were also found guilty of conspiracy to wage war against the country under Section 121A of the IPC and who have also served their sentences, Muzaffar Ahamed Rather be released from the penitentiary while Sk Nayeem is to be produced before of the Patiala House Court in Delhi in connection with another case.

“In view of the acquittal under Section 121 IPC, the sentences of death and fine of ₹ 50,000 each imposed on the appellants on the such score are set aside,” the senator, which also includes Justice Ananya Badopadhyay, ordered in its judgment on the appeals. against the decision of the court that imposed the death penalty.

The court said that since the offense under Section 121A IPC deals with conspiracy to wage war or to intimidate the sovereign authority of a democratically elected government by a show of criminal force, it is serious and “involves indoctrinated members of a terrorist organization whose purpose is to strike terror and destabilize nation”.

Since the petitioners are not men who were in the upper echelons of a terrorist organization, the court said they are foot soldiers who were recruited by seduction or coercion for the activities of that organization.

The court said that the mitigating circumstances show that the appellants are not prominent players in the organization and there is little possibility that they would return to the path of terrorism.

“Since Md Younus and Md Abdullah have served their sentences, the relevant authorities are directed to deport them to their country of origin, i.e. Pakistan,” the court ordered.

Two Pakistani nationals were also found guilty under the Aliens Act and sentenced to five years in prison, to run concurrently.

The North 24 Parganas District Court sentenced three LeT terrorists – Md Younus, Md Abdullah, and Muzaffar Ahamed Rather – to death in January 2017 and in December 2018 awarded the maximum sentence to a fourth terrorist module, Abdul Nayeem, for “waging war against the country”.

The division bench heard the death reference of the four as the high court has to uphold the death sentence awarded by the sessions court, apart from their appeal against the conviction and sentence.

On 3 April 2007, the BSF arrested four persons on suspicion of being members of the terrorist organization LeT and handed them over to the local police.

The West Bengal CID, which took over the investigation, accused them of waging war against the country and procuring arms and explosives, among other charges.

Nayeem escaped custody in 2013 when he was taken to Maharashtra for questioning in connection with the 2006 Mumbai train blasts case but was re-arrested by NIA sleuths in October 2018.

While Rather was taken to Pakistan for weapons training, Nayeem was assigned to meet them in Bangladesh and help them enter India, and then take them to Jammu and Kashmir.

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