Batla House case: Suspected IM terrorist gets life term

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BATLANew Delhi, July 30;Suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) terrorist Shahzad Ahmed, convicted in the 2008 Batla House encounter case, was on Tuesday sentenced to life imprisonment by a Delhi court for killing decorated police officer M.C. Sharma and injuring two other cops.

Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Rajender Kumar Shastri also imposed a fine of Rs. 95,000 on him.

The court said that out of the fine amount, Rs. 40,000 would go to the family of Sharma and Rs. 20,000 to Head Constable Balwant Singh, who was injured in the encounter.

The court had on Monday reserved its verdict on the quantum of sentence to be awarded to Shahzad after hearing arguments from the prosecution and the defence. The prosecution sought death penalty while the defence counsel had pleaded for leniency and a chance for reformation of the convict.

The Delhi Police had argued for capital punishment on the ground that he had killed and injured on-duty police officers and was involved in various other heinous crimes, including the September 13, 2008 serial blasts in New Delhi which left 26 people dead and injured 133.

Special Public Prosecutor Satwinder Kaur had contended that there was no scope for reformation of Shahzad and equated his case with that of Devenderpal Singh Bhullar and Ajmal Kasab who were awarded death penalty and the same was upheld by the Supreme Court.

On the other hand, Shahzad’s advocate Satish Tamta had said death sentence can be awarded only in rarest-of-rare cases and this one did not fall under that category.

On July 25, Shahzad was convicted for the offences of murder, attempting to cause death and various other provisions of the IPC and the Arms Act.

The court had also found him guilty of assaulting police officers and obstructing them from doing their duty.

Without questioning the genuineness of the encounter, the ASJ said that instead of assisting the raiding team which had arrived at Flat 108, L-18, Batla House, the occupants, including Shahzad, had fired at it.

The raiding team of Special Cell of the Delhi Police had arrived at the flat to arrest its occupants in connection with the September 13, 2008 serial blasts after it received information that some terrorists were holed up there.

Of the five, who were residing in the flat, Atif Ameen and Mohd Sajid were killed in the encounter in which Inspector Sharma had succumbed to the bullet injuries.

Sharma was awarded the gallantry award Ashok Chakra posthumously, for the September 19, 2008 encounter in which two alleged IM operatives were killed.

The court while convicting Shahzad had raised questions over preparedness of the raiding police party which was not having bullet-proof jackets or adequate number of weapons while trying to apprehend the suspected IM militants whose activities came to light for the first time in 2008.

Was it “misadventure or lack of professionalism or scarcity of weapons?” asked the court.

The judge had preferred to leave aside the controversy raised from certain quarters about the alleged affiliation of Shahzad with banned militant outfit IM, which is accused of carrying out a number of terror strikes in the country.

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