One of the 12 accused in the murder case of Gujarat minister Haren Pandya was sent to jail by a special Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) court in Ahmedabad on Thursday. The court also remanded the accused, Asghar Ali, in judicial custody until further notice. Ali was lodged in Hyderabad jail in another case but the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) secured his warrant and brought him to Ahmedabad.
Earlier in July, the Supreme Court overturned the 2011 Gujarat High Court's judgement where it acquitted all the 12 accused in the 2003 Haren Pandya murder case. Before convicting all the accused, the apex court dismissed a PIL filed by Centre seeking a fresh, court-monitored probe, saying several new facts had emerged in the case which required fresh investigation.
Ali and eight others are now behind bars while the remaining three have completed their sentence. Since Asghar Ali was lodged in a different jail, the CBI had to secure his warrant first and then brought him to the POTA court in Ahmedabad. After the hearing, the Special Judge, Mr. MK Dave, remanded him to judicial custody.
Pandya was a prominent minister in the Narendra Modi-led state government in Gujarat. In March 2003, he was shot dead while he was on his routine walk near Law Garden in the Gujarat capital. After his murder, the CBI had claimed that he was killed to avenge the communal riots that broke out in 2002 in Gujarat.
In its findings, the CBI had also claimed that the killers had also made an attempt on the life of VHP leader Jadish Tewari the same year. The investigative agency stressed that both incidents were part of a single conspiracy to avenge the Godhra riots and spread fear among people.
According to the CBI, the killers had taken training in Pakistan at the behest of the ISI before executing Haren Pandya.