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AHMEDABAD: The Ahmedabad crime branch on Saturday nabbed an alleged key conspirator of the 2002 Akshardham temple attack, days after the Gandhinagar shrine celebrated its silver jubilee. The arrest of Abdul Rasheed Ajmeri (60) brings to 25 the number of suspects in the case who remain at large.
Ajmeri is a native of Shahpur in the Walled City area, and has been living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for the past 28 years. He was declared an absconder 15 years ago.
He was arrested by a team led by inspector K G Chaudhary around 3.45am from outside the Ahmedabad international airport after he landed here on a Kuwait-based airline.
Police had earlier arrested eight people, including Ajmeri’s younger brother Adam Ajmeri as well as Mufti Abdul Qayyum and Chandkhan of Jammu & Kashmir, for the September 24, 2002 attack. They have all been acquitted by the Supreme Court.
According to police, Abdul Rasheed was one of the key conspirators of the attack, in which 34 people lost their lives. “Though Ajmeri’s name is not part of the FIR, it cropped up during the probe. We still have more than four Indian accused on our list, including three from Uttar Pradesh, and Abu Sufiyaan of Pakistan, who was a key Jaish-e-Muhammad operative in Saudi Arabia,” said a senior crime branch official.
“Ajmeri, along with Salim Shaikh and Altaf Shaikh (both acquitted by the SC), had displayed videos of the 2002 communal riots to people and gathered funds for the terror attack,” said additional deputy commissioner of police Rajdeepsinh Zhala. He said Ajmeri had thrice sent money to his younger brother Adam.
Adam said he did not know initially that his brother was also an accused. “The verdict has already been given by the Supreme Court and we have been acquitted,” Ajmeri said.
On speculation that the case would be reopened, deputy commissioner of police, crime branch, Deepan Bhadran said that Abdul Rasheed’s arrest would have no implications on the case as the SC had already acquitted the accused arrested earlier.