A special court under the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, has sentenced two men to death for their involvement in killing a retired school principal in Kanpur. The court found that the two men, Atif Muzaffar and Mohammad Faisal, were linked to the terrorist organization ISIS and had killed the retired principal, Ramesh Babu Shukla, to “spread terror among non-Muslims.”
Judge Dinesh Kumar Mishra pronounced that the actions of the two convicts fell into the “rarest of the rare” category, meriting the death penalty. The judge observed that the motive behind Shukla’s murder was not personal enmity but rather to instill fear and spread the Shariat, or Islamic law.
In addition to the death penalty, the court imposed a fine of Rs 11.20 lakh on each of the convicts. This amount is to be given to the family of the deceased principal. Once the high court confirms the death sentence, the convicts will be executed by hanging.
Ramesh Babu Shukla was shot dead in Kanpur on October 24, 2016. Initially, an FIR was filed by his son, Akshay Shukla, against unknown persons at Chakeri police station. Muzaffar and Faisal were first arrested in relation to a train blast that took place on March 8, 2017. During the investigation, Muzaffar confessed to committing the murder of Shukla after confirming that he was a Hindu, identified by his ‘kalawa’ (sacred thread).
The investigation revealed a broader context linking the two men to the ISIS terror group. On the same day as the train blast, Mohammad Saifullah, another individual linked to ISIS, was killed in an encounter in Lucknow. Forensic tests showed that the bullet recovered from Shukla’s body matched a gun found at Saifullah’s residence. Eight guns and several cartridges were also recovered from Saifullah’s house.
After the investigation was completed, the NIA filed a charge sheet against the two accused in the special court.