Citing a Supreme Court verdict in the 2002 Akshardham Temple attack case, a POTA court here on Sunday rejected the city crime branch’s plea seeking remand of alleged prime conspirator of the attack, Abdul Rashid Suleiman Ajmeri. Ajmeri, who was arrested on Saturday, was produced before Special POTA Judge P B Desai at his residence by officials of the Crime Branch, who sought a 14-day custody on various grounds.
However, Desai rejected the demand and sent Ajmeri to Sabarmati Central Prison here. The judge, however, allowed the Crime Branch to question Ajmeri in the prison for 10 days between 10 am and 2 pm every day. In its remand plea, the Crime Branch said that they needed Ajmeri’s custody to find out his overseas connections.
It also argued that the agency needs custody in order to unearth the various details related to Ajmeri’s hideouts during these years and also to find out if he was in contact with other “wanted” accused in the case. However, defence lawyer appearing for Ajmeri, Ilyaskhan Pathan, raised objections, saying the grounds mentioned in the remand plea were based on a theory that had been rejected by the Supreme Court when it acquitted all the six accused held by the Crime Branch in 2014.
Pathan argued that Ajmeri was in the Crime Branch’s custody for more than 24 hours after his arrest, a time sufficient for the police to get information. The argument by the defence lawyer was accepted by the judge. Crime Branch personnel had arrested Ajmeri yesterday at 1.30 am after he landed at the Ahmedabad International Airport from Riyadh.
Ajmeri, who hails from Ahmedabad, is the ninth accused to be arrested of the 34 named in the terrorist attack on the Gandhinagar-based temple on September 24, 2002, that had left 34 dead and 84 injured. He is also accused of conspiring with the terrorists from organisations such as the Jaish-e-Mohammad and the Lashkar-e-Taiba in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Pakistan to get fund, personnel and weapons for the attack along with his brother Adam Ajmeri and other accused.
In 2003, an FIR was lodged against Ajmeri and others at the Sector 21 police station of Gandhinagar under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 121 (waging war against the government), 124A (sedition), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), among others, as well as relevant sections of the POTA Act and Explosive Substance Act, and Gujarat Police Act, he said. Two terrorists had entered the temple and opened fire on devotees. The attack had taken place after the 2002 Godhra riots.
The attackers were were killed by National Security Guard (NSG) commandos. The Supreme Court had, in May 2014, acquitted six convicts, including three facing death sentence, for want of sufficient evidence against all of them.