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The Supreme Court Tuesday stayed the death sentence awarded to Aftab Ahmed Ansari alias Aftab Ansari, a co-accused in the January 22, 2002 attack on Kolkata’s American Centre that killed six policemen. The other accused, Jamiluddin Nasir, who too was awarded death sentence, got a stay from the court on May 10.

The vacation bench of the court comprising Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice C.K. Prasad gave the West Bengal government 16 weeks time to file its reply.

Ansari who is considered to be the mastermind of the attack that also injured 14 people, was arrested in Dubai on February 9, 2002 and deported to India to face trial. Seven accused were charged in the case and the trail court awarded the death sentence to all of them.

They were charged under sections 121 (waging war against the state), 121-A (conspiracy), 302 and 9 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code and 27(3) of the Arms Act.

The death sentence of Ansari and Nasir was confirmed on February 6, 2010 by a division bench of the Calcutta high court comprising Justice Ashim Banarjee and Justice Kalidas Mukharjee.

However, the division bench commuted the death sentence of Musarat Hussain, Sakir Akhtar and Hasrat Alam to seven years in prison and acquitted Rehan Alam and Adil Hassan.

Early in the morning of January 22, 2002, two motorcycle-borne men opened indiscriminate fire from their AK-47s at the policemen posted outside the American Centre located at the Jawaharlal Nehru Marg, resulting in the death of six and injuries to 14.

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