Ahmed Murtaza Abbasi, an IIT-Mumbai alumnus who was arrested last year after the attack on policemen at Gorakhnath Temple in UP’s Gorakhpur, was acquitted by the Lucknow-based ATS/NIA court in a court trial that lasted barely two months. has been sentenced.
After the arrest, the family had said that Abbasi was mentally unwell. Nine months have passed since the incident and now after the sentence, Abbasi’s lawyer has claimed that his plea for a mental health test was rejected by the district court.
The UP government had termed the incident as a terrorist incident and transferred the matter to the UP ATS for investigation. A core committee under the leadership of UP ATS ADG Naveen Arora was formed not only to investigate the case but also to assist the prosecution in speedy investigation of the case. ADG Arora claimed, apart from Abbasi’s digital footprints, the retrieval of his deleted files proved to be crucial evidence in the case.
Meanwhile, reacting to the sentence, Director General of Police Devendra Singh Chouhan said, “He was a ‘lone wolf’ attacker of ISIS and an expert in terror funding. In our thorough investigation, we came to know that he was an alumnus of IIT Bombay And was an IT expert. He hid his online activity, disseminated terrorist literature electronically and was liaising with ISIS to send fighters to al-Hol in Syria.
On April 3 last year, Abbasi was arrested after attacking PAC personnel deployed outside the Gorakhnath temple with a sharp weapon while raising religious slogans. The Gorakhnath Temple is the headquarters of the Gorakhnath Math, whose chief priest is Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
Family had claimed that Abbasi was not “mentally sound”, ATS refuted the claim
The family, in their brief interaction with the media, had claimed that their son Abbasi was not of sound mind and had suicidal tendencies, for which he was undergoing treatment since 2017.
Following Abbasi’s arrest in 2022, The Quint contacted a neurologist in Ahmedabad who had treated Abbasi in 2018. The neurologist concluded that Murtaza was “in a state of mental stress and confusion”. The neurologist advised Abbasi to consult a psychiatrist. The neurologist said that after the first sitting, Abbasi did not turn up for follow-up.
Rejecting the claims, ADG Arora said, “He (Abbasi) was of sound mind and was telling even the smallest details. He was studying quantum physics, making mathematical formulas and doing research on chemicals for bombs. Can a person of unsound mind Everyone can?”
ADG Arora said, “He had worked with three different companies. If he was not mentally fit, no one would have hired him. We have proved that he was not of unsound mind.”
ADG Arora confirmed that the defense tried to get relief on the ground of mental illness but could not produce any medical records.
Speaking to local media in Lucknow, Abbasi’s lawyer Raza-ur-Rehman said, “Abbasi is brilliant, but he is not of sound mind. We have filed a complaint under section 84, sub-section 328 of CrPC, to get him examined for his mental health.” An application was made in the court. But the application was kept pending. After three months it was canceled and immediately charges were framed and statements of witnesses were recorded.”
Was this case worth hanging?
DGP Chauhan sees Abbasi’s conviction in just 60 days as a reform in the criminal justice system in the state. He says- “This decision gives a positive message to the public that strict action is taken against those who try to disturb the unity, integrity and social harmony of the country.”
Meanwhile, experts believe that the matter is not of ‘rarest of rare’. Means it is not extraordinary in terms of hanging. Delhi High Court advocate Harshit Anand says- “One, there must be extraordinary circumstances for hanging. Secondly, the nature of the crime must be very gruesome and the court must be satisfied that there cannot be any reformation of the person concerned. If you Look at the facts and what crime has been committed, you will find that it is not murder or even culpable homicide.”
He also claimed that factors like troubled personal life, poor mental health, drug addiction should also be taken into consideration in such cases.
Anand says- “It is underestimated but what the courts now emphasize is that when you give death sentence, you also have to do a psychosocial analysis of the person concerned. You have to know their personal background, The social milieu has to be looked into. There are reports that Abbasi’s father was talking about his son’s turbulent personal life since 2017. Such a turbulent personal life, any setback puts the person in a position to commit a crime. ”
Deleted files are “strong evidence”: ATS
The UP police is patting itself on the back for the speedy hearing in the case. The high-profile case was being directly monitored by UP ATS’s ADG Arora. The ATS claims to have built a precise case based on electronic evidence, digital footprints and statements of witnesses.
ADG ATS Arora says- “A core committee was formed which was headed by me. We collected statements along with evidence. We emphasized on what evidence and witnesses would be required. Presented witnesses.
When Abbasi was making a dangerous plan, he was also an IT expert, so why would he leave his footprints?
On this question, ADG Arora says- He was planning to go to Syria to join ISIS. He was not even worried about the evidence left behind. The special thing is that contrary to his expectation, we recovered the deleted files and this proved to be a big proof.
Abbasi’s lawyer Rahman said that he would approach the High Court against the death sentence.