Compensate those acquitted under UAPA, say activists

No evidence produced by police against 122 persons, says court

A local court in Gujarat’s Surat city recently acquitted 122 persons arrested under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for participating in a meeting organised in December 2001 as members of the banned outfit Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

After their acquittal, some of the accused and also activists from the minority community demanded that they be compensated for being “illegally framed by the police” without any evidence against them.

“Many of them spent years in jail while facing trial. Five accused even died during this lengthy legal proceedings. They should be compensated,” a social activist belonging to the minority community said.

After protracted legal proceedings, the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate A.N. Dave acquitted 122 persons arrested for being members of the banned outfit SIMI as the prosecution failed to produce any substantive evidence linking them with the proscribed outfit.

During the trial, the accused had vehemently denied being members of the outlawed group and submitted that they had gathered to participate in a seminar organized under the banner of All India Minority Education Board.

They submitted that they were in the meeting for religious and educational purposes to take part in a seminar in a peaceful manner and they had no record of being involved in any terror related or subversive activities as were charged by the police.

The court acquitted 122 accused after the trial while five other accused had died during the pendency of trial. The court gave the benefit of doubt to the accused following no reliable evidence against them.

In its order, the court said the prosecution failed to produce “cogent, reliable and satisfactory” evidence to establish that the accused persons belonged to the SIMI and had gathered to promote the activities of the proscribed outfit.

The court said the accused persons cannot be held guilty under the UAPA as were charged by the police.

As many as 127 persons were arrested by Surat’s police on December 28, 2001 under various sections of the UAPA for allegedly being members of the banned outfit SIMI and organising a meeting in the city to promote and expand the organization’s activities.

The central government had through its notification dated September 27, 2001 banned SIMI, calling it an Islamic fundamentalist outfit promoting subversive activities in the country.

In this case, the accused belonged to different parts of Gujarat as well as from Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

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