26/11 Mumbai terror attack: Mastermind Abu Jundal, 11 others convicted

Aurangabad arms haul was part of a larger post-2002 plot to eliminate the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Praveen Togadia.

Mumbai : After a decade long trial, a special MCOCA court on Thursday convicted 12 accused, including Abu Jundal, the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, in the infamous Aurangabad arms haul case of 2006. Eight others were, however, acquitted.

Upholding the prosecution’s claim, the special Judge Shrikant Anekar said, “This was a conspiracy after the 2002 Gujarat riots to eliminate then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Pravin Togadia.”

The court, however, rejected the prosecution’s contention that all the accused be charged under the stringent MCOCA. The court has convicted Jundal and others under several sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the Arms Act, the Explosive Substances Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

In his order, the special judge has observed that the accused had a common thought process for Islam and they wanted to wage jihad. The judge has accepted the prosecution’s contention that the cache of arms and ammunition that the ATS had seized from the two cars was originally brought from Pakistan. It may be recalled that the State’s Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) had on May 8, 2006, chased a Tata Sumo along with an Indica car, on the Chandwad-Manmad Highway near Aurangabad.

The ATS team had arrested three suspects and also recovered around 30 kg RDX, 10 AK-47 rifles and more than 3,000 bullets. The prosecution’s case was that Jundal – a Lashkar-e-Toeba operative — was driving the Indica car and had managed to evade arrest and sneaked into Malegaon; after two months he moved to Bangladesh, and finally fled to Pakistan. The prosecution claimed that Jundal flew to Pakistan on a fake passport, which he had acquired with the help of other LeT operatives. However, Jundal, who hailed from Beed district, was arrested in 2012, after he was deported to India from Saudi Arabia.

Vaibav Bagade, the special public prosecutor in the case, said, “In this decade long trial, we examined a total of 100 witnesses and 2,000 documents to support our case that the accused possessed the seized arms and ammunitions.”

“Out of the total 22 accused in the case, the court convicted 12 and acquitted eight. However, a separate trial may be conducted for one accused who had earlier become an approver but later turned hostile and the one accused who is still at large,” Bagade added.

Bagade also said that the court would start hearing the final arguments of both the sides over the ‘quantum of sentence’ on Friday and will accordingly pronounce its judgment.

It must be noted that the prosecution had framed charges against all the accused in 2012, but due to the Supreme Court’s order, the trial was stayed till 2009.

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