Accused tries to present facts; lashes out at the media for believing the “lies” allegedly spread by the police

Imran, aged 40, is a Gujarati from Ahmedabad who migrated to Pakistan when he was 15, took the citizenship of that country, married twice, and started a textile business which flourished for a while before being wrecked by the global slowdown. In 2007-08, he harboured visions of transferring his business to India, his country of birth, and prepared to surrender his Pakistani identity documents and take domicile here.

On December 5, 2011, Imran and his second wife Soofiya were purportedly arrested at New Delhi Railway Station. Stories appeared in the media alleging they were spies, that Soofiya was a suicide bomber, and that they had trained their sights on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

This Tuesday, a courtroom in Delhi was witness to heart-rending scenes that told a different tale from the one which the Special Cell of the Delhi Police would allegedly have the court, the media, and the public at large believe.

Produced from judicial custody before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vinod Yadav, Imran and Soofiya, accompanied by their aged parents who came all the way from Gujarat for the hearing, broke down repeatedly, while taking nearly 45 minutes of the court's time to put forward their view. During his emotional outburst, Imran repeatedly lashed out at the media for believing the “lies” allegedly spread by the police. Noting that he did not have a lawyer to represent him, the CMM asked for an advocate to volunteer, following which a young lawyer present in the courtroom unhesitatingly came forward to file Imran's bail plea.

Imran told the court that he had applied to the Central Government through the Gujarat Government for permanently settling in India and for the purpose intended to surrender his Pakistani identity documents. Pointing to the Investigating Officer (IO), Imran's father, Yusuf, told the CMM that copies of all such documents were handed over to the IO “in a bunch” during investigation.

In his order, Mr. Yadav observed: “However, the said documents have been withheld by the IO for the reasons best known to him,” further noting that the prosecuting agency had not charged the accused with “having any contact with terrorists or any Pakistani agency”.

For all the initial brouhaha, the Special Cell has filed a charge sheet against the duo under rather tame charges - Section 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 14 of the Foreigners Act for illegal entry into India.

However, Imran alleged that he was apprehended in Nepal by men in plainclothes on November 22, 2011, and brought to India without his consent. He claimed that he had taken a Pakistan International Airlines Flight from Karachi to Kathmandu on November 17 and that he had made calls to his relatives in India from there.

“I had come to India earlier on August 3, 2009, and stayed on till October 2, 2010, for the purpose of preparing documents to take up residence in India again. After that I left for Pakistan,” said Imran.

“I left India when I was 15 because the condition of my family was poor. My grandmother resided in Pakistan and I had relatives in the textile business who set me up in that field. I met Soofiya in 2001 and married her later with the permission of my first wife. My business began to falter due to the global slowdown. My foreign clients advised me to move to India and specifically Gujarat because it was a cotton-rich State. Do you know, I have travelled several times to Europe,” Imran said.

Noting that Imran and Soofiya could be “victims of circumstances” and “considering the facts and circumstance of the case on a humane angle”, Mr. Yadav granted him two weeks' interim bail to produce in court all the documents which he claimed would help prove his innocence. Imran even submitted that the court may take his parents into custody as “security for his coming back to court” but the court turned this down saying it was not “legal”.

“This court cannot close [its] eyes to their plight and miseries, particularly in the teeth of documents which could show his innocence at least for the purpose of granting bail and to bring true facts before this court. Defence counsel has argued that even otherwise these documents would be required by the accused to pursue his petition before the High Court, seeking permission to permanently stay in India and to take further steps to bring back his family, consisting of his wife and two children, who are languishing in Pakistan,” Mr. Yadav said in his order.

Soofiya continues to remain in judicial custody.

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