LeT operative gets lifer for plotting terror attacks in Bengaluru

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Bengaluru, Oct 5 (IANS) A sessions court on Wednesday sentenced convicted Kashmiri militant Bilal Ahmed Kota to life imprisonment for plotting to carry out terror attacks in the city as a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) outfit operative nearly a decade ago.

“Bilal Ahmed Kota alias Imran Jalal has been sentenced to life imprisonment for hatching a criminal conspiracy to attack IT firms and vital installations in Bengaluru,” said sessions court Judge K. M. Hiremath here.

The court, which convicted Kota on Tuesday under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Arms Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC), said the militant would also serve a 10-year jail term concurrently on another count.

On an Intelligence Bureau tip-off, the state anti-terrorism cell arrested Kota in the city on January 5, 2007 as the prime accused and recovered in a search operation an AK-47 assault rifle, 200 rounds of live ammunition and five hand grenades from his rented house at Hosapete in Ballari district, about 330km from Bengaluru.

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Five others accused in the terror case, including three of Pakistani origin, still remain at large.

According to the chargesheet filed by the city crime branch in the case, Alqama alias Lala Khan, Khalid and Azam Cheema were all from Pakistan, while Basharat is a resident of Kashmir and Rajesh is a resident of Pune in Maharashtra.

“Khan was the operational commander of LeT in India and Cheema, a native of Sialkot, was a former ISI (Inter- Services Intelligence) agent in Pakistan,” said Special Public Prosecutor C. A. Ravindra.

Kota, who studied at a private polytechnic in the city over two decades ago, opened a handicraft store at the world famous heritage site Hampi near Hosapete later.

“Kota received arms training at one of the LeT jihadi camps at Muzzafarabad and operated for some time from Islamabad in Pakistan during 1995-99. He also obtained a passport on fake identity and went to Pakistan again in 2005 to receive instructions from LeT handlers to survey IT firms, the state secretariat and the city airport for terror attacks subsequently,” recalled Ravindra.

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