NIA court awards life term to convicts

NIA court awards life term to convicts

Ajmer blast case: Says death penalty will be unfair as many involved

NIA court awards life term to convicts

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) Special Court in Jaipur on Wednesday sentenced two convicts to life imprisonment for the Ajmer Dargah blast in 2007 that killed three people and injured 17.

The court had found Hindu right-wing activists Sunil Joshi and Devendra Gupta guilty of planning the blast, and Bhavesh Bhai Patel of planting the explosive.

NIA special judge Dinesh Kumar Gupta awarded life imprisonment to Devendra Gupta and Bhavesh Patel. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on Patel and Rs 5,000 on Devendra Gupta.

The court stated that according to the prosecution, many people were involved in this criminal conspiracy, so pronouncing death penalty to the convicts will be unfair. Hence punishment of life term will be minimum and sufficient.

Devendra Gupta, an RSS activist, and Patel will have to serve life in jail, the court ruled. However, the third convict, Sunil Joshi – a former RSS pracharak – died under mysterious circumstances on December 29, 2007.

Outside the court, defence counsel Jagdish Rana told the media that the convicts would file an appeal against the judgement in the high court. “The conviction for conspiracy under Sections 120 (b) of IPC and Section 18 of the Unlawful Activities Act is illegal and convicts will challenge it in the court,”  Rana told DH.

However, public prosecutor Ashwini Kumar Sharma said, “Prosecution would seek appeal against the acquittal of former RSS activist Swami Aseemanand”.

Patel was an RSS activist at his hometown of Bharuch in Gujarat, while Devendra Gupta, a resident of Ajmer, worked for the RSS in Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. The convicts owed allegiance to the RSS in the past.

This is the first-ever conviction and sentencing of the RSS cadre in a terror case.

Case so far
Earlier, the NIA court had twice deferred its order. On March 8, the court acquitted seven accused, including former RSS activist Swami Aseemanand. Pakistan had expressed concern at the acquittal of Swami Aseemanand and had also summoned Deputy High Commissioner of India to Pakistan J P Singh. The blast inside the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti on October 11, 2007, at the time of iftaar (dusk, when Muslims open the fast), left three dead and 17 injured.

At the time of the blast, during the holy month of Ramzan, the shrine was jampacked with around 7,000 devotees.

The case was handed over to the Rajasthan ATS and was later transferred to the NIA on April 6, 2011. The NIA filed three supplementary charge sheets after examining 149 witnesses and 451 documents.

As per the charge sheet, some outfits associated with the RSS are behind the blasts in retaliation for the attack on Jammu’s Raghunath temple and Amarnath Yatra in 2002 by Muslim terror groups.
DH News Service

Oct 11: Blast at shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisthi in Ajmer kills 3, injures 17
Dec 29: Fmr RSS functionary Sunil Joshi, an accused, murdered in Dewas (MP)

Oct 22: 5 suspects held by Rajasthan ATS

April 6: Case transferred to NIA

March 8: NIA court convicts Sunil Joshi, Devendra Gupta and Bhavesh Patel; Swami Aseemanand, said to be the prime accused, acquitted
March 22: Gupta and Patel get life term
26 of 149 witnesses turned hostile
NIA filed three supplementary charge sheets
451 documents were examined

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