Akshardham Temple attack
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|Akshardham Temple attack|
Attacked Akshardham temple complex
|Location||Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India|
|Date||24 September 2002
-25 September 2002|
4:45 pm – 6:45 am (IST)
|Attack type||Bombings, shootings|
|Deaths||32 (including the two perpetrators)|
|Injured (non-fatal)||Atleast 80|
|Assailants||2, Murtuza Hafiz Yasin and Ashraf Ali Mohammed Farooq|
|Defenders||National Security Guard|
On 24 September 2002, two armed attackers entered Akshardham temple complex at Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India. They killed 30 people and injured more than 80. Later National Security Guards intervened and ended siege the next day killing both attackers.
Two heavily armed attackers arrived by the white car at the Akshardham temple's Gate 3 at 4:45pm. They tried to enter through the main Gate 3 but were unsuccessful due to security checks. So they scaled the perimeter fence and opened fire, killing a woman and a temple volunteer immediately at a nearby book stall. They tried to enter main temple monument but were unsuccessful as complex was locked shut from inside by volunteers. They rushed to the exhibition halls. Doors of the multimedia theatre was shut from inside so they entered Exhibition Hall 1 from exit door and opened fire killing many people. Later they climbed up the roof top of the hall and hid there. By 5 pm, the police and commando units reached the complex and evacuated visitors and started search operation for attackers. The attackers later opened fire the commandos evacuating main temple complex. The security forces cordoned the area and cross fired to not let attackers escape.
The National Security Guard (NSG) commandos commonly called Black Cats intervened under the operation codenamed Vajra Shakti. They joined the security forces at 11:30 pm. The operation continued through the night and ended with killing of the two attackers at 6:45 am hiding in the bushes.
By the end of the attack, 30 persons were killed excluding attackers and more than 80 persons were wounded. Apart from the 26 people killed in the first assault, 1 state police officer and 1 commando were also killed in the action. One more seriously injured commando Surjan Singh Bhandari who died after nearly 2 years of being in a coma.
Later attackers were identified as Murtuza Hafiz Yasin and Ashraf Ali Mohammed Farooq.
Later investigation said that two Jaish-e-Mohammed operatives, Abu Tallah and Abu Sufiyan, convened a secret meeting in Riyadh immediately after the riots with the help of one Salim Hanif Sheikh, who hails from the Dariapur locality in Ahmedabad but was working as a tailor in Riyadh for the last few years. The Jaish operatives also held several meetings with them in Hyderabad and in Ahmedabad for finalising the entire operation.
Three terrorists; Murtuza Hafiz Yasin and Ayub Khan from Lahore, Ashraf Ali Mohammed Farooq from Rawalpindi; came "empty-handed" from Pakistan to Ahmedabad a week before the attack. They contacted Salim Hanif Sheikh and Adam Suleman Ajmeri. Ajmeri provided the shelter to the terrorists in his brother's house. They were introduced to Altaf Akbarhussain Malek, Mufti Abdul Qayyum and Moulvi Abdulmiyan Sayed.
They were provided with arms and ammunitions in Ahmedabad. They scouted with Ajmeri at various places in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar and selected Akshardham.
On the day of the attack, Moulvi Abdulmiyan Sayed took the terrorist duo to the Kalupur railway station from where they picked up the taxi to reach Akshradham.
Ayub Khan along with Ajmeri left for Akshardham as an advance party in an autorickshaw. They stood near the children's park in the temple complex and later joined the crowd coming out of the complex as soon as the shooting started. On returning to Ahmedabad in the same autorickshaw, they informed the Jaish operators on telephone about the successful beginning of the operations and at their advice Ayub was dispatched in a taxi to Vadodara to escape to Pakistan.
Moulvi Abdulmiyan Sayed confessed that the two letters written in Urdu in the name of a fictitious Tahrik-e-Kasas organisation, which were recovered on the body of the slain terrorists, were actually written by him.
David Headley's confession
In 2010, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) associate David Headley, who was arrested in connection with the 2008 Mumbai attacks, reportedly confessed to the National Investigation Agency that an LeT terrorist named Muzammil planned and conducted the Akshardham Temple attack, in addition to the Chittisinghpura massacre of Sikhs in Kashmir.
Ahmedabad police have arrested five persons in August 2003.
At least 28 others, accused by the police of being involved in the attack, were absconding as of 2010.
Shaukatullah Ghori who was absconding after the attack was arrested in July 2010.
In July 2006,the POTA court awarded death sentence to Adam Ajmeri, Shan Miya alias Chand Khan, who hails from Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, and Mufti Abdul Qyyum Mansuri. While Mohammed Salim Shaikh from Ahmedabad, was sentenced to life imprisonment, Abdulmiyan Qadri got a 10-year term and Altaf Hussain five years.
In 2008, some of the convicts went on appeal in the High Court. On 30 May 2010, the Gujarat High Court confirmed the death sentence awarded to three persons and prison terms to three.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of BAPS which manages temple, understanding the severity of the situation, made an appeal to the public to maintain peace and pray for those that had been lost, thus alleviating escalating ethnic tensions. His response calling for peace, harmony, and forgiveness echoed in the hearts and minds of thousands of people around the world. United States Congressman Anthony Weiner and an Anti-Terrorism Conference in Germany both cited his response as the ideal response to terrorism; they coined that peaceful response the ‘Akshardham Response.’
- List of hostage crises
- Akshardham (Gandhinagar)
- Allegations of state terrorism committed by Pakistan
- Dasgupta, Manas (1 June 2010). "Death sentence for Akshardham temple attack convicts upheld". The Hindu (Ahmedabad). Retrieved 2013-05-16.
- "India riots: Court convicts 32 over Gujarat killings". BBC News. 29 August 2012.
- Dasgupta, Manas (29 August 2003). "Akshardham attack: 'there was a standby terrorist'". The Hindu. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
- Lashkar behind Sikh massacre in Kashmir in 2000, says Headley. Hindustan Times. 25 October 2010.
- "Akshardham terror attack accused moves Gujarat high court for bail". DNA. 21 December 2010. Retrieved 2013-05-16.