Nanded arms haul: 3 held for LeT links convicted, 2 acquitted

A special court on Tuesday convicted three men and sentenced them to 10 years in jail while acquitting two others arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) with firearms in Nanded in 2012 and for alleged links with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Mohammed Muzammil, Mohammed Sadiq and Mohammed Akram were convicted under the UAPA while Ilyas Mohammed Akbar and Mohammed Irfan Gaus, who also spent nine years in jail, were cleared of all charges.

The NIA had taken over the probe in 2013. The ATS, which booked the accused, had claimed that one of its officers had received information that four men carrying firearms were traveling toward Nanded on August 30, 2012.

Separate teams conducted raids and arrested Muzammil, Sadiq, Ilyas and Irfan. The ATS had claimed that while a revolver with six cartridges was found on Sadiq, a revolver, six bullets and two cartridges were found on Muzammil. Nothing was recovered from Ilyas and Irfan, who were acquitted by the court.

Based on the interrogation of the four, Akram was later arrested. ATS had claimed Akram was part of LeT and instigated Sadiq and Muzammil to procure weapons and carry out illegal activities, including eliminating politicians, journalists and police officers.

Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Prakash Shetty, appearing for the NIA, said that apart from the recovery of firearms, the investigators had found documents, emails, photographs of intended targets, seized phones and hard disks. He added that 73 witnesses were examined in the case.

Special Judge Dinesh E Kothalikar found the three guilty of charges pertaining to conspiracy, being members of a terrorist organisation and offences committed while being its members. Muzzammil was also found guilty under the Arms Act and sentenced to five years in prison.

The men have completed over nine years in jail and the period already spent as undertrials will be deducted from their 10-year jail term. Meanwhile, SPP Shetty moved a plea on Tuesday seeking to initiate proceedings of perjury against a witness who had turned hostile. The witness, whose identity was truncated in the chargesheet, had in his initial statement spoken of conspiracy meetings between the accused. During the trial, however, he denied his statement. Shetty said that the court has issued a notice for the witness to appear before it later this month.

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