26/11 handler convicted Rahul takes on Modi over failure to curb price rise in 2006 arms haul case
A designated Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court on Thursday convicted Lashkare-Taiba’s (LeT) 26/11 handler Abu Jundal and 11 others in the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case, saying the explosives and rifles were meant to eliminate Narendra Modi, then Gujarat chief minister, and VHP leader Pravin Togadia.
“This was a conspiracy after the 2002 Gujarat riots to eliminate then Modi and Togadia,” said special judge Shrikant Anekar, upholding the prosecution’s claim. There was direct evidence that the consignment of arms was provided by Pakistan and brought in to avenge Godhra riots and spread unrest, the court said.
The accused were convicted under the charges of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with Explosives Act, Indian Arms Act and Explosive Substance Act. But, all of them, including Lashkar operative Jundal, whose real name is Zabiuddin Ansari who was deported from Saudi Arabia in 2012, escaped the stringent MCOCA.
Eight people were acquitted in what has come to be known as the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case.
On May 8, 2006, a team of Maharashtra anti-terrorist squad chased two cars near Aurangabad and arrested three terror suspects. The ATS recovered 30kg RDX, 10 AK-47 rifles and 3,200 rounds of ammunition from one of the vehicles. Jundal, in the other car, managed to flee. Hailing from Beed district in Maharashtra, Jundal was on the radar of intelligence agencies, which, through phone intercepts, traced him to Pakistan and got to know in 2012 of his plans to move to Saudi Arabia.
Jundal was picked up for questioning by Saudi police in June 2012. A year later, he was brought to India and led the ATS to another hideout from where 13kg RDX, 1,200 cartridges and 50 hand grenades were recovered.
The special court framed charges against the 22 arrested accused in August 2013. The trial was stayed by Supreme Court for a while after one of the accused challenged the constitutional validity of certainprovisionsof MCOCA. The stay was vacated in 2009.
In August 2015, Bombay HC directed the lower court to expedite the trial.
Price rise came to a boil in Parliament on Thursday, with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi faulting Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the runaway cost of kitchen staples, a charge that prompted finance minister Arun Jaitley to spring to the government’s defence.
Gandhi highlighted spiralling prices of pulses such the popular arhar dal, potato and tomato to tear into Modi’s poll promise of taming food inflation.
“There is a new slogan in villages, arhar Modi, arhar Modi, arhar Modi,” he said in the Lok Sabha, mimicking the BJP’s 2014 poll slogan of “Ghar Ghar Modi (Modi in every household)”.
He questioned Modi’s silence on price rise. “You talk about start up India, stand up India, make in India, but not price rise,” he said, mocking Modi’s signature projects. Finance minister Jaitley countered the Congress leader’s charge, and reeled out statistics to make his point that the price rise is seasonal.