11 Muslims Accused of Terror Links Acquitted After 598 Days in Prison

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The accused were detained by the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad over suspicion that they had ties with Al Qaeda and its Indian affiliates.

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI – Eleven Muslims detained over terror charges have been acquitted after 598 days of incarceration.

The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court ordered their release recently for lack of evidence.

All the accused were detained by the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) over suspicion that they had ties with Al Qaeda and its Indian affiliates. The ATS confiscated reading materials, laptops, devices, and cell phones while arresting them.

A two-bench judge consisting of Justice Attau Rahman Masoodi and Justice Manish Kumar Nigam ruled that the accused were arrested without sufficient grounds. The court decision followed a lapse under Section 43(D) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) wherein the investigative agency failed to submit a chargesheet within the allotted time frame.

All the accused — Aleem, Muddasir, Nadeem, Habibul Islam, Haris, Aas Mohammed, Kamil, Qari Shahjad, Maulana Luqman, Ali Noor, Nawaziah Ansari, and Mukhtar — were arrested by the ATS on 26 September 2022.

However, the prosecution failed to support the charges even though it had 45 eyewitnesses present in court to support their claims. The bench stated that the prosecution could not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt at this stage. The prosecution, according to accused lawyer Furkan Pathan, was unable to substantiate its allegations, and the accused was not present in court when needed, which resulted in the default bail.

“The prosecution could not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt at this stage,” stated the court

Another counsel, Advocate Saif Ali, stated that the prosecution was unable to offer evidence of these banned groups’ existence or operations in India. The court made it clear that there was insufficient justification to hold the accused person.

Maulana Arshad Madani, president of Jamiat Ulema Hind commended the ruling as historic. In a post on social media platform X, he expressed the hope that the verdict will be a trendsetter in cases where Muslim youths are put in prison for extended periods without official charges being filed.

The high court order is in line with the one given earlier this year by the Delhi High Court where it held that a person’s mere interest in a terrorist group that is outlawed does not amount to being part of it and granted bail to an alleged ISIS supporter held under the UAPA. The court held that having evidence against someone or attending lectures by extreme preachers is not enough reason to call somebody a terrorist or supporter of terrorism. 

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