The special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court at Patiala House in Delhi, on July 2, granted bail to four Muslim youths because NIA has failed to file a chargesheet within stipulated period of 180 days.
Mohammad Azam, Mohammad Irshad, Rayees and Zaid Malik – who have been accused of terror conspiracy at crowded places in and around Delhi – walked out on bail.
"We were inside for over seven months, seeing only walls and bars for 24 hours. Now sipping tea whenever I want at home feels like a luxury,” said Azam, a pharmacist, who was sent to prison seven months back. Now, he is unemployed, and with a prison record. Mohammad Irshad, co-accused, said, “We were not convicted, but everyone labelled us ISIS agents, inside the jail and outside, even the media.”
In December 2018, the NIA, along with the Uttar Pradesh and Delhi police forces, had carried out searches in Muslim-majority localities of Delhi, Amroha, Meerut and Hapur and other parts of the country. The NIA said 14 arrests were made and during the probe, it was revealed that a plan to carry out explosions and terror strikes at crowded places in and around Delhi was being hatched.
According to NIA, Mufti Mohammad Suhail along with Delhi resident Mohammad Faiz had allegedly formed a terror module inspired by ISIS and called it Harkat-ul-Harb-e-Islam and the terror group had advance knowledge of bomb-making. The agency also claimed to have seized a huge cache of arms and explosives and even a rudimentary rocket launcher.
Lawyer MS Khan, who appeared for the five accused who had been picked up from Seelampur and Jafrabad, told NewsClick, "The NIA had filed the chargesheet against 14 people on June 21. In the chargesheet, NIA could not produce any proof of involvement in terror activities against Mohammad Azam, Mohammad Irshad, Rayees and Zubair Malik. Neither NIA could prove that these youths have any links to any terrorist organisation. That's why the court has granted bail to these four people."
The chargesheet was first filed before Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Ajay Kumar Jain during the court's vacation as the mandatory six months period given under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, was getting over.
According to Khan, the Patiala House Court has set the date July 29 for hearing of bail applications of the other 10 accused.
CAUSE FOR CONCERN
In the past, there have been several instances of Muslims being wrongly implicated in terror-related charges. In some cases, the innocent Muslims had to spend more than 15-20 years in prisons for the crime they never committed, thereby posing serious questions about the integrity of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Commenting on the witch-hunt of the Muslims, criminal lawyer Abubakr Sabbaq, who deals with such terror charge cases routinely, said, "The witch-hunting of Muslims started after Babri mosque demolition in 1992 and since then, around 10,000 Muslims have been wrongly framed under different terror charges. The irony is that 95% of these Muslims have been acquitted because they were not found guilty, but they were forced to spend half of their life in the jail, despite being innocent. In this case also, the NIA has miserably failed to provide the material to support the alleged terror charges against the accused. Being involved with a slow judicial system itself is a punishment for the innocent Muslims because the accountability of the guilty officers cannot be fixed by the law."
Meanwhile, in the last week of June, the Ministry of Home Affairs revealed that total 155 people have been arrested so far, for their alleged connection with ISIS, from across the country. But the question that begs a response is how many of these can be convicted; how many can be proved guilty in a court of law.
CHAOS CREATED BY MEDIA
Wasif Haider, who hails from Kanpur, had been framed in multiple terror charges: waging war against state, Kanpur riots cases, bomb explosion case and murder of Additional District Magistrate (Finance and Revenue) C P Pathak. He was acquitted from all the charges and was pronounced innocent. Along with the legal battle, he was subjected to also an excruciating media trial. Haider has sued newspaper Dainik Jagran, and the case remains pending in the Supreme Court.
He told NewsClick, "A Hindi daily newspaper addressed me as a terrorist repeatedly even after my acquittal and release from the prison. If you talk about constitutional values, someone, until proved guilty, is innocent. But media violated this rule for their TRP. For their TRP, they can destroy life of a person. I am not getting any job after my acquittal and will not get any in near future because media has portrayed me as a terrorist."
Also read: NIA Raids Part 1: IS-Module or Witch Hunting?