MAULANA MOHAMMED Hanif, the preacher arrested on charges of radicalising 21 youths from Kerala to join terrorist organisation Islamic State, has applied for bail before a special court in Mumbai. In his plea filed through advocate Sharif Sheikh, Hanif has said he was professing his religious work as an imam in a mosque and did not instigate the youths.
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“The present allegation in the entire FIR if taken as it is, has remotely no unlawful or illegal act made out against the applicant (Hanif). The complainant is completely silent as to how and in what way the present applicant has instigated or abetted to brain-wash any of the residents of the said village to motivate to join any terror group through his speech (sic),” the application states.
The 26-year-old preacher was arrested on the basis of a complaint filed at the Nagpada police station by one Abdul Majid Kadar, a Mumbai resident. Kadar alleged that his son Ashfaq had left the country along with wife and one-year-old daughter to join the IS. In the FIR, Kadar named Hanif, besides one Abdul Rashid Abdulla, also from Kerala, and Mumbai residents Arshi Qureshi, guest manager with the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), and Rizwan Khan, who worked as a volunteer with Al-Birr Foundation.
IRF has now been banned for five years under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Hanif was arrested on August 13, with the probe first transferred to the Mumbai Police Crime Branch and then the NIA. The NIA is yet to file a chargesheet in the case. On Monday, the central agency wrote to the special court seeking an extension of another 90 days to file the chargesheet available under the UAPA.
Hanif has said in his bail application that he is engaged in Islamic religious teaching and was maintaining his family on its basis. “In the remand report and FIR, there is no whisper that the present applicant was having knowledge about the intention of other co-accused or about the son of the present complainant that he will go and join the terrorist organisation,” the bail plea states.
Ashfaq had allegedly been influenced by the teachings in his Kerala village and informed his family in January 2016 that he was going to Sri Lanka to learn the Quran. He returned in April, but spoke about leaving for Sri Lanka again, his family claims. After leaving the second time, Ashfaq allegedly sent an audio message to his father, claiming that he had joined the IS.