New Delhi: A Delhi court Monday awarded 12-year-jail terms to two Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) terrorists and 10-year-terms to two other members of the outfit for conspiring to commit terror activities and arranging funds for those acts, saying "they had hatched a conspiracy to strike at the core of this nation".
Observing that the terror funding has to be kept in the same category as that of actual terror acts if not in a higher category, Special Judge Parveen Singh awarded 12-year jail terms to Mohd. Shafi Shah and Muzzafar Ahmad Dar and 10-year-jail terms to Talib Lali and Mushtaq Ahmad Lone.
The court also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000, Rs 65,000, Rs 55,000, and Rs 45,000 on Shah, Dar, Lali, and Lone respectively.
While punishing Shah, who was the divisional commander of HM, the court said “the crime for which the convict has been found guilty is an act of treason and there can be no greater crime which affects the social order than this crime.”
All the four accused had pleaded guilty to all the charges levelled against them on September 27, and following that, were convicted on October 4.
While Shah and Lali were residents of Bandipora district in Jammu and Kashmir, Dar and Lone hailed from Budgam and Anantnag districts respectively.
The case was lodged by the NIA with allegations that HM had been regularly receiving funds originating from neighbouring countries for carrying out terrorist activities in India and that in the garb of an organization Jammu Kashmir Affectees Relief Trust (JKART), the HM was actively involved in furthering the terrorist activities.
All the four were convicted for the offences under sections 17 (raising funds for the terrorist act), 18 (conspiracy to commit terrorist act), 20 (being a member of terrorist gang or organisation), 40 (offence related to raising funds for a terrorist organisation) and 38 (offence relating to membership of a terrorist organisation) of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
They were also convicted for sections 120 (criminal conspiracy) and 121 (waging war against the Government of India) of the Indian Penal Code.
The judge rejected the arguments made by the convicts that there was no case against them where they had actively participated in any terror activities which resulted in the loss of life and property and, therefore, a lenient view be taken.
“On the face of it, this argument seems very powerful. However, I find that the hand which provides the gun or the motivation to take up the gun is equally liable as the hand which ultimately fires that gun,” the judge held.
He held that the convicts, in this case, may not have been charged and convicted for any direct terror act leading to loss of life or property, however, the proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir which has been raging for decades has resulted in the loss of numerous lives and destruction of State property.
The court said the convicts who have primarily been convicted for terror financing had provided funds for the activities of HM and those funds were used for the destruction of property and taking human lives.
“Thus, merely because, in the present case, the convicts were not directly responsible for loss of life and property, it cannot be accepted that they were not responsible for loss of life and destruction of property because of the terrorist activities of HM,” the judge said.
He added that, on the contrary, he found that the funding network run by the convicts “on the instructions of their handlers sitting in Pakistan had a greater responsibility for the terror acts committed by HM as in absence of such funding, which financed the cadres of HM and provided logistic support, it would not have been possible to commit those terror activities.”
“Thus, I find that the terror funding has to be kept in the same category as that of actual terror acts if not in a higher category. Thus the crimes for which the convicts have been convicted are very serious as they had hatched a conspiracy to strike at the core of this nation and actions were taken to execute that conspiracy,” the judge said.
Shah accepted that he was the divisional commander of HM. He was in custody since the year 2011.
Dar was in custody since the year 2009 and Lali had spent more than eight years in jail. Lone, who was an overground worker and was transferring funds on the directions of his handlers/ superiors was arrested in 2011.PTI