A SPECIAL Court in Lucknow Monday awarded the death sentence to 30-year-old Ahmed Murtaza Abbasi for attacking and injuring two police constables with a sharp-edged weapon while trying to forcibly enter the premises of the Gorakhnath temple in UP’s Gorakhpur in April last year.

“Additional District and Sessions Judge Viveka Nand Sharan Tripathi awarded the death sentence to Murtaza Abbasi. The court also imposed a total fine of Rs 44,000 on him. I am yet to go through the full judgment,” said Mithlesh Kumar Singh, the state government counsel.

UP DGP Dr Devendra Singh Chauhan said the death sentence was awarded due to “effective work by the ATS prosecution wing”. Abbasi’s court-appointed lawyer, Ram Narayan Tiwari, did not respond to calls from The Indian Express seeking comment.

In a statement, UP Police said that Abbasi was “highly radicalised” and in “direct touch” with ISIS fighters and sympathisers. It said that he was funding “terror fighters” and sympathisers in Syria, and was planning to go to that country.

“He was ISIS’s lone wolf and an expert in terror financing. He was involved in spreading terror literature in electronic format and was in touch with ISIS people,” DGP Chauhan said.

Government counsel Singh said Abbasi, an IIT-Bombay graduate who worked for a private firm, was convicted under several sections, including IPC 121 (waging or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the Government) and 307 (attempt to murder), and those under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

The trial was shifted to Lucknow from Gorakhpur due to the Special ATS Court’s jurisdiction, he said. Abbasi is lodged in a Lucknow jail.

The incident for which the death sentence was handed out occurred on April 3 last year when, police said, Abbasi reached the temple gate, attacked security personnel there with a sharp-edged weapon and raised religious slogans. He was overpowered by security personnel, they said.

According to police, two PAC personnel, Gopal Gaur and Anil Paswan, suffered injuries on their hands and legs. UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who is the head priest of the Gorakhnath temple, was not present on the premises at the time.

Abbasi, who hails from Gorakhpur, was also accused of trying to snatch the weapons of security personnel.

According to the government counsel, Abbasi was also convicted under IPC sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion) 186 (obstructing a public servant in discharge of duty), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from duty), 333 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt to deter public servant from his duty) and 394 (voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery).

The court also convicted Abbasi under The Criminal Law Amendment Act and Arms Act, Singh said.

Following the incident last year, the police had lodged a case against Abbasi at the Gorakhnath station with UP’s Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) in charge of investigation. The police had also claimed to have recovered a bag belonging to Abbasi at the temple gate along with a laptop, another sharp-edged weapon, ID cards, and a cellphone.

The police had told the court after the arrest last year that Abbasi was under the influence of radical preachers of various terrorist organisations and had pledged a vow of allegiance to the outfit Ansar-ul-Tawhid in 2013, and later to ISIS.

Abbasi’s father Muneer Ahmed, who worked for a legal consultancy in Mumbai before returning to Gorakhpur two years ago, had said that his son was undergoing treatment for depression and “not well since around 2017”. During investigation, police said, it came to light that Abbasi was married and that his wife had left him a few months before the attack.

By editor

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