By Shuriah Niazi
NEW DELHI (AA) - A court in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday handed down life sentences to four accused of attacking a Hindu temple, acquitting one former suspect of the shooting which led to the death of two civilians.
A special court sentenced Mohammed Shakil, Asif Iqbal, Mohammed Naseem and a fourth shooter known as Doctor Irrfan to life imprisonment, while Mohammed Aziz was acquitted.
The decision came 14 years after the attack in the town of Ayodhya, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where the Babri Mosque was destroyed in 1992 by Hindus, who see it as "Ram Janbhoomi," the birthplace of the Hindu god Ram.
Hindus claimed that a Hindu temple had been destroyed by the Mughal Emperor Babur to build the 16th century mosque at the site.
The attackers who allegedly belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba tried to storm the makeshift temple at the disputed Ram Temple-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya on July 5, 2005.
Defence lawyer Shamshul Hasan told Anadolu Agency: "We will be approaching the High Court against the verdict. It almost took 14 years for the court to deliver the verdict. The judge who delivered the verdict was the fifth one as [the] earlier four were either transferred or promoted."
According to the New Delhi Television (NDTV) news channel, five attacker posing as pilgrims hired a jeep on the outskirts of Ayodhya. The jeep then exploded near the boundary of the disputed area.
They also used a rocket launcher to fire inside the makeshift temple.
Security forces subsequently gunned down the shooters after an hour-long gun battle, later arresting five others who were charged with attempted murder and conspiracy.
Four of the accused were from Jammu and Kashmir with another arrested from Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh.