Prime conspirator in Akshardham temple terror attack case held

AHMEDABAD, Nov 4: The alleged prime conspirator in the 2002 terror attack on Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar, Abdul Rashid Suleiman Ajmeri, was arrested at the city airport after he returned from Saudi Arabia in the early hours today, officials said.

Crime branch sleuths arrested Ajmeri, an Ahmedabad resident, based on intelligence inputs that he was travelling to the city to meet his mother and brother, Assistant Commissioner of Police (crime branch) Rajdipsinh Zala told reporters.

“He was arrested at 1.30 am today after he landed at the Ahmedabad International Airport from Riyadh,” he said.

Of the 34 people named in the terrorist attack on September 24, 2002 that left 32 dead and 84 injured, Ajmeri is the ninth accused to be arrested, Zala said.

The ACP said Ajmeri, who had been living in Saudi Arabia for over two decades, had planned the attack and helped others in carrying it out.

“Ajmeri, who is from Ahmedabad, lived in Saudi Arabia for a long time. After the 2002 riots, he raised funds from Muslims in Saudi Arabia for the terror attack,” the official said.

“He is accused of conspiring with terrorists belonging to organisations like Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Pakistan to arrange funds, personnel and weapons to carry out the attack along with other accused,” Zala said.

In 2003, an FIR was lodged against Ajmeri and others at the Sector 21 police station in Gandhinagar under IPC sections related to “criminal conspiracy, waging war against the government, sedition, murder, attempt to murder among others”, the officer said.

They were also booked under relevant sections of the POTA Act, the Explosive Substance Act and the Gujarat Police Act, he said.

Two terrorists had entered Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar on September 24, 2002 and opened fire on devotees.

The attackers were killed by National Security Guard commandos.

The Supreme Court had in May 2014 acquitted all the six convicts arrested earlier, including three facing death sentence in the case. (PTI)