The State government has fulfilled one of its major promises in the manifesto by constituting a Cabinet subcommittee for looking into cases of Muslim youths being arrested on charges of terrorism, and get them released if found innocent.

The Congress had in its manifesto promised to form a committee headed by a retired high court judge for studying such cases for early release of the innocent. But sources in the Home Ministry told The Hindu that the government finally decided on a Cabinet subcommittee, which will have more constitutional powers.

Sources said the committee is headed by Home Minister K.J. George and comprises about six legislators.

Another important decision the government has taken is to look into all cases where innocent people are believed to have been arrested, irrespective of their caste and nature of crime.

“The Cabinet subcommittee has more powers; it can take advice from legal experts from the Law Ministry, which would help them get a clear idea about the cases. The report will be later submitted to the government for Cabinet clearance as it has the constitutional powers to get the arrested person released by issuing an order,” sources said.

The committee is expected to convene its first meeting within a week, sources said.

Meanwhile, Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), which is fighting cases for Muslims youths, who have been arrested under terrorism charges, does not seem to have much faith in the committee. Irshad Ahmed Desai, convener of the organisation, said since in most of the terror-related cases, Central investigating agencies are involved, it is not possible for the State government to release people facing terrorism charges.

“Without the will and support of the Union government, the State cannot get a prisoner facing terrorism charges released. If the State government has real concern for innocent Muslim youths, it should build pressure on the Union government to get cases cleared,” Mr. Desai said.

Sceptical about the government’s intensions, he said when the present Congress government did not get anything done for innocent Muslims when the UPA government was in power, what would now happen when the Bharatiya Janata Party is in power?

Sceptical view

“The State government, for the last one year, has not released innocent Muslims of Karnataka, who were arrested in cases of communal riots in Shimoga and Hassan.

Interestingly, the BJP, during its tenure, got all the right-wing activists who were involved in communal riots released,” Mr. Desai pointed out.

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