New Delhi: Terming five Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorists "merchants of death and destruction", a Delhi court on Thursday sentenced them to life imprisonment for indulging in terrorist activities and waging war against the country.
While sentencing convicts Noor Mohammad Tantre, Pervaiz Ahmed Mir, Faroz Ahmed Bhat and brothers Atiq-uz-Zama and Raees-uz-Zama, arrested by Delhi police in August 2003, Additional Session Judge RK Gauba also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on each of them.
The court had convicted them on January 3.
"These foot soldiers of forces inimical to India and bent upon sabotaging the peace and tranquillity here, besides posing a serious threat to its unity, sovereignty and integrity, have to be neutralised. In order that they are suitably de-fanged and blunted so as to be of no further use to the enemy, it is imperative that these merchants of death and destruction are locked away for their remaining lives, which is the course permissible in the statutory prescriptions provided for a large number of offences committed by them," the court said in its seven-page order.
The court also referred to different terrorist attacks in the country, including the 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes, to say that Pakistan has been responsible in abetting the scourge in India.
"Pakistan's imprint is writ large in the evidence adduced against the five convicts. Each of them have revealed his respective connections with the terrorist elements rooted in that country," Judge Gauba said.
The court had convicted them noting that they "hobnobbed" with each other, and two of them went to Pakistan and stayed illegally to get training for the purpose.
They were convicted under various sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC) relating to waging war against the country and under the Explosives Substance Act for possessing huge quantity of arms and ammunition, including grenade-launchers.
Convicts Raees and Atiq, who hail from Sikandrabad in Uttar Pradesh, are brothers of Habibullah, who was gunned down by Delhi Police along with Pakistani national Zahoor in an encounter on August 30, 2003, in the Millennium Park near Nizamuddin Bridge in Delhi.
All the five militants were arrested by the Delhi Police on August 30-31, 2003, following the encounter.
Besides the arms and ammunition, the police also claimed to have recovered a sum of Rs 19.20 lakh from prime accused Tantray who was held from Sadar Bazar in Delhi.
During the arguments, defence counsel M S Khan sought a lenient view from the court saying that all of them have faced trial for over seven years and have families to look after.
Special Public Prosecutor Devender Kumar had sought severe punishment against them.