The National Investigation Agency’s conviction rate now stands at 93.69 percent, thanks to the sentences handed down by Special Courts in Lucknow and Ahmedabad to ten accused. Both cases concern the accused’s online radicalization in the name of ISIS, as well as their motivation to commit violent Jihad and terror attacks in the country.
On Monday, the NIA Special Court in Lucknow sentenced seven accused to death and one to life imprisonment in the ISIS Kanpur case. In the ISIS Rajkot case, however, another NIA Special Court in Ahmedabad sentenced two to ten years in prison.
“With the pronouncing of these two sentences, the conviction rate of NIA cases stands at 93.69 per cent,” said the NIA in a statement.
The NIA said it has reached yet another milestone in its tradition of evidence-based investigations that rely on scientifically collected hard evidence.
According to the agency, the eight accused from Uttar Pradesh, Atif Muzaffar, Mohammad Danish, Asif Iqbal alias Rocky, Mohammad Atif alias Atif Iraqi, Mohammad Faisal, Mohammad Azhar, and Gauss Mohammad Khan, all hailing from Kanpur Nagar, and Sayed Meer Hussain of Uttar Pradesh’s Kannauj, had set up a hideout in Haji Colony (Lucknow).
“They had prepared and tested some IEDs and had unsuccessfully tried to plant them at various locations in Uttar Pradesh. Investigations have led to the discovery of several photographs of the accused making IEDs and even with weapons, ammunition and ISIS flag,” the NIA said.
“The group had reportedly collected illegal weapons, and explosives from various places.”
According to the report, Atif and three others, identified as Md Danish, Sayed Meer Hussain, and Md Saifulla, were responsible for creating the IED that was planted in the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train.
On March 7, 2017, a train exploded, injuring ten people. According to the NIA, all eight had come together to spread ISIS ideology and promote its activities in India.
In pursuit of this goal, Mohammad Faisal, Gauss Mohammad Khan, Atif Muzaffar, Md Danish, and Md Saifulla explored land routes and visited several key cities across the country, including Kolkata, Sundarbans, Srinagar, Amritsar, Wagha Border, Badmer, Jaisalmer, Mumbai, and Kozhikode, according to the agency (migration).
According to investigations, Gauss Mohammad Khan and Atif Muzaffar had explored a route to cross into Bangladesh via the Sundarbans. Faisal, Atif, and Saifulla had also travelled to Kashmir in March 2016 in an attempt to contact terrorist groups that could assist them in crossing into Pakistan and migrating to ISIS-controlled territory in Syria.
On March 7, 2017, Saifulla was killed during an exchange of fire with the Uttar Pradesh Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) in Haji Colony. Lucknow ATS initially registered the case on March 8, 2017, and the NIA re-registered it on March 14, 2017.
According to the NIA, a charge sheet was filed against eight people on August 31, 2017. On February 24, this year, eight defendants were convicted following the trial.
On Tuesday, an NIA Special Judge in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, pronounced a sentence convicting the accused of various offences under the India Penal Code, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Arms Act, and the Explosive Substances Act.
Mohammad Faisal, Gauss Mohammad Khan, Mohammad Azhar, Atif Muzaffar, Mohammad Danish, Sayed Meer Hussain, and Asif Iqbal have all been sentenced to death, while Mohammad Atif has been sentenced to life in prison.
In another ISIS-related case, the Gujarat NIA Special Court sentenced two terrorists to ten years in prison after the NIA discovered the use of social media platforms such as Skype and Telegram to radicalise and recruit cadres to carry out terror acts in India in the name of ISIS during its investigation. Vaseem Arif Ramodia alias Ninja Fox and Naeem Arif Ramodia are brothers who live in Rajkot, Gujarat.
“Investigations have revealed that they used online chats and messages to advocate and spread the ideology of ISIS. They arranged, participated and assisted in organizing online discussions and meetings among active ISIS operatives to plan and execute acts of violence and terrorism,” said the NIA.
They had tried to commit arson by burning vehicles and shops belonging to non-Muslims, said the agency, adding “they have unsuccessfully tried to fabricate an IED as well”.
According to the NIA, both of the accused were planning a lone-wolf attack at Chotila Temple on the orders of their online ISIS handlers. “They had already recee’d the area but they were apprehended before they could carry out the attack.”
The case was originally registered by ATS Ahmedabad and re-registered by the NIA on May 25, 2017, with the Chargesheet filed against them on August 22, 2017. On Tuesday, following the conclusion of the trial, the accused were found guilty.