U.P. challenges acquittal of Muslim men

STF had claimed they were trained HuJI operatives and on their way to carry out terror missions

Updated - May 15, 2016 08:14 am IST

Published - May 15, 2016 12:00 am IST - LUCKNOW:

The Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh has challenged the acquittal of six Muslim men who were absolved of terror charges last October after they spent almost nine years in jail.

The State filed a petition in the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on February 25 for leave to appeal from the acquittal order of the six Muslim youth. On February 29, the HC summoned the lower court’s records and listed the matter after six weeks for consideration of prayer for grant of leave to appeal from the acquittal.

Details on website

The matter last came up for hearing on May 10 but the State sought an adjournment. The matter is likely to come up on August 1. The information is accessible on the official website of the HC.

In October 2015, six Muslim men, who were accused of being trained operatives of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islam (HuJI), were acquitted for want of evidence by a special court in Lucknow. Jalaluddin, Nur Islam, Ali Akbar Hussain, Sheikh Mukhtar Hussain, Aziz-ur-Rehman Sardar and Naushad were among the many arrested in 2007 by the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force which claimed that they were trained HuJI operatives on their way to carry out terror activities in the State. Four of them — Ali Akbar, Sheikh Mukhtar, Nur Islam and Aziz-ur-Rehman — are residents of West Bengal’s 24 Parganas North district, while the other two are from U.P.

The State’s decision to challenge their acquittal has shocked the six men who were exonerated of all charges after almost nine years in jail. “Will I have to go back to jail,” wondered madrasa teacher Ali Akbar, whose father is a former Air Force personnel.

The counsel of the six acquitted, Mohammad Shoaib described the State’s action as “rubbing salt on wounds” of the minority community. He alleged that the Akhilesh Yadav government had challenged the acquittal merely to appease the majority community ahead of the 2017 Assembly elections. “The Samajwadi Party did not fulfil its promise of freeing the innocent Muslims and is now challenging the acquittals granted by the court. This is nothing but an anti-Muslim act,” Mr. Shoaib said.

In its election manifesto, not only had the SP promised to release innocent Muslim youth implicated in false terror charges, but also said it would rehabilitate such youth and punish those who falsely implicated them.

Additional advocate-general with the Uttar Pradesh government, Zafaryab Jilani said he was not aware of the details of the appeal. “I have called for the files and will get them checked ,” he said. Mr. Jilani directed this correspondent to State government’s advocate Rishad Murtuza but even he claimed to have no knowledge of the petition. “It has not come before me. I will check on Monday,” he said.

Samajwadi Party spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary refrained from commenting on the legal aspects of the case but said his party was in principle in favour of releasing innocent persons lodged in jail on terror charges. “Since the SP government came to power in 2012, not a single innocent person has been arrested on terror charges,” Mr. Chaudhary said.

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