India came down heavily on captured Lashkar-e-Taiyaba (LeT) militant Mohammad Arif who was involved in an attack inside the Red Fort in New Delhi in December 2000 that resulted in the killing of three Indian Army personnel.
One of the few terrorist attacks in the heavily fortified heart of Delhi, Arif – a Pakistani national – was the leader of the group that masterminded the attack. He was captured along with his wife within days of the attack. His trial was conducted in a lower court that awarded him the death penalty.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court – beyond which there is no appeal – confirmed the punishment, upholding the death sentence.
Arif had appealed to the Delhi High Court in 2007 against the death sentence handed by a lower court; however the High Court, too, confirmed the sentence.
On December 22, 2000 two Lashkar militants sneaked into the Red Fort and opened fire on guards of the Seventh Battalion of Rajputana Rifles killing two jawans and one civilian. On December 26, Arif alias Ashfaq and wife Rehmana Yusuf Farooqui were arrested.
A trial court in November 2005 awarded Arif the death sentence and Additional Sessions Judge OP Saini also fined Arif INR435, 000.
The Delhi High Court in 2007 upheld the trial court’s life sentence for Arif, and acquitted the other accused, including his Indian-born wife.
The others had served their sentences by then.
Saini handed down the judgment to Arif under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for waging war against India. Arif’s wife was sentenced to seven years’ rigorous imprisonment for sheltering her husband “before and after the incident”. A father-son duo – Nazir Ahmed Qasid and Farooq Ahmed Qasid – were sentenced to life and fined INR100,000 for criminal conspiracy in the case. Justice Saini also sentenced Babar Mohsin Baghwala, Sadaqat Ali and Matloob Alam to seven years’ imprisonment for their complicity in the attack.
The LeT militant was sentenced to death under Section 121 (waging war against the country) and Section 302 (murder).
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2011.