Tuesday, Dec 17, 2002
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By Anjali Mody
A.R. Geelani, Mohammad Afzal and Shaukat Hussain Guru, arrested in connection with the December 13 attack on Parliament, being produced at the Patiala House Courts in New Delhi on Monday . Photo: Sandeep Saxena
Announcing the verdict one year and three days after the December 13 attack on Parliament, Judge S.N. Dhingra told a packed courtroom that having considered the entire evidence, he held that the three men "along with the five deceased terrorists, namely Mohammed, Haider, Hamza, Raja and Rana, and with Ghazi Baba, Tariq Ahmed and Mohammed Masood Azhar hatched a criminal conspiracy for committing offences like waging war against India, collecting arms and ammunitions and explosive substances and men for this purpose.''
Geelani is a suspended lecturer in Arabic, Zakir Hussain College, Delhi University, Guru, a former Delhi University student, and Afzal, a surrendered JKLF militant. Ghazi Baba is "commander" of the banned militant outfit, Jaish-e-Mohammed. Maulana Masood Azhar, founder of the JeM, was one of the terrorists swapped for the passengers aboard an Indian Airlines plane, which was hijacked to Kandahar in 1999.
Mr. Dhingra said Geelani, Guru and Afzal had conspired, with the slain terrorists to "capture Parliament House and kill the Prime Minister and Home Minister and to make hostage all the MPs and VIPs present'' and to kill anyone "who came in their way for the achievement of this object.'' So they also stood convicted of conspiring to kill the nine persons, including members of the Parliament security staff and a gardener, who died during the attack.
The conviction of Geelani, Guru and Afzal is the first under POTA. They have been found guilty of all the offences (under POTA, Cr.P.C and the Explosives Act), with which they are charged, barring two. The charges which have not been upheld are both offences under POTA: membership of banned organisation Section 20 and possession of the proceeds of terrorism Section 3 (6) an offence with which only Guru and Afzal were charged.
The two are also convicted of the additional charge of "harbouring and concealing the five deceased terrorists at various hideouts in Delhi.''
The judge reserved sentence until 2.00 p.m. tomorrow. The accused will be given an opportunity to make arguments on the point of sentence. The maximum punishment for the charges pertaining to terrorism under POTA, that Geelani, Guru and Afzal have been convicted for, is death. The charge of concealing knowledge of a conspiracy to wage war against the state, for which Afsan has been convicted, is punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine.
As he left the court, Guru, asked how he felt, said "I am honoured to be a Kashmiri and a Muslim.'' Afsan, who was carrying her baby born while she was in jail, repeatedly asked the policemen surrounding her "tell me what I have done. What has this child done? Afzal and Geelani did not comment.
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