Hubballi: The First Additional Sessions Court, Hubballi, has acquitted all 17 so called “terror suspects” accused of being part of a “sleeper cell” of the outlawed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) including three doctors, one final year MBBS student and two engineers.
The helpless youth were facing charges of waging war against the country, sedition and manufacture and possession of huge amount of explosives. The court heard the case for seven years and recorded statements of 278 witnesses.
The Thursday’s acquittal by the court followed the prosecution’s failure to prove charges against the youths.
The CID had investigated the case and chargesheeted all the 17 youth during BJP rule in Karnataka. The agency alleged that the accused had links with SIMI and possessed “jihadi” literature.
The CID charge sheet ran into 1,624 pages. The CID probe was headed by then DIG and current Bengaluru additional commissioner of police Alok Kumar. DA Bandekar, public prosecutor said that he is waiting for the judgment copy. “After going through it, I will file an appeal in the high court,” he said.
Syed Sadiq, one of the 17 accused, is out on bail already. Two of the accused, Yahya Kammukutty and Allah Baksh, will walk out of jail once the procedures of acquittal are formalized. The remaining 14 have been charged in various other cases by police from other states.
In the two cases registered in 2008, three charge sheets were filed against 18 persons, including medical students and professionals. Apart from Section 121 (waging, or attempting to wage war against the Government of India.) of the IPC, the accused were charged under Section 122, 124, 153, 379, 465, 471, 201, Section 10(B) of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Section 5 of the Explosive Substances Act.
Of the 18 accused, the name of accused no. 11, Sayyad Nayeem of Gurppanapalya, Bengaluru, was dropped subsequently citing lack of evidence, while Syed Sadiq of Gurappanapalya, Bengaluru, was granted bail four years ego. The rest were in prison for the last seven years.
At the time of arrest, Mohammad Asif of Raichur, Mirza Ahmed Baig of Humnabad and Allabaksh Yadwad of Hubballi were pursuing medicine at the Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) in Hubballi. The other arrested were from Vijayapura, Dharwad, Bengaluru, Belagavi, Kalaburagi and Udupi in Karnataka, and from different places in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.
After the verdict, the lawyers for the accused, K.M. Shiralli and Ismail Jalagar, said “justice has prevailed”, while Additional Public Prosecutor D.A. Bhandekar said he would study the verdict after getting the certified copy, and give his opinion to his superiors. “The State government will decide on going for an appeal after consulting legal experts,” he said.
In the wake of the “busting” of the sleeper cell, activists of right-wing organizations had set on fire the Hubballi office of the lawyer, who was defending some of the accused.