The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal which is holding hearings to decide the legality of the Centre’s ban on Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) is travelling to Port Blair later this month to hold a hearing even as the Centre has told the tribunal that “the SIMI has not been formed in these islands (Andaman and Nicobar) so far”.
The Centre is seeking a seventh consecutive ban — for five years — over SIMI before the Tribunal that is headed by Delhi High Court judge Suresh Kait. This tribunal has already travelled to 10 destinations across the country to conduct public hearings. It will travel to two more cities — Lucknow and Bhopal — apart from Port Blair before it concludes and gives its decision on the ban by the end of this month.
The hearing of the tribunal at Port Blair is scheduled for July 20 and 21.
The ostensible reason for going to Port Blair, the tribunal says, is “record the evidence of the witnesses from National Investigation Agency (NIA)” in Port Blair. These NIA witnesses will also be travelling to Port Blair.
Justifying the destination, the tribunal order on June 28 said: “…even though the parent organisation from which SIMI emanated is in Port Blair, no sitting has ever been held of the tribunal at Port Blair.”
The Centre’s note says that “Jamat-e-Islami Hind from which SIMI has originated is functioning in these islands since 1972”. Jamat, however, is a legal organisation with presence across the country and the government has never linked the activities of SIMI with those of Jamat.
Ironically, one reason the government amended the law to extend the ban from two to five years was to reduce the cost of administering the ban.
A chronology of the tribunal’s “public” hearings shows that those who deposed are mostly police personnel:
April 23-25: Thiruvananthapuram. Four witnesses: Two deputy superintendents of police of NIA; an inspector of the Kerala Police in Kozhikode and Superintendent of Kerala Police G Sreedharan who is “nodal officer in matters concerning ban on SIMI”.
April 30-May 1: Udaipur. One witness: Inspector General of Police, CID, Jaipur, Janardhan Sharma deposed.
Three persons had been given notices by the Rajasthan Police to appear before the tribunal as “members of the SIMI”. These men Zaheer Mohammad Pathan, Kaleem Mohammad Qazi and Mohammad Yasin Ali Khan appeared and submitted affidavits saying that they have never been SIMI members nor is there any case registered against them. Assistant Sub Inspector Ajit Singh told the court that “notices were sent to these persons from the office of DSP, Bhilwara, Rajasthan”. And as the officer wasn’t present in the court, he was asked “to be present before the tribunal on May 7 in Mysore to explain….”
May 7-8: Mysore. Four witnesses: DSP, State Intelligence Dakshina Kannada district, Jayanth Vasudev Shetty; Circle Police Inspector, Dharwad district, N Sadananda Shivaram Padolkar; DSP, Special Enquiries Division, Bangalore, Simon CA; Assistant Commissioner of Police J C Nagar Sub Division Bangalore H M Omkariah.
May 15-16: Delhi. One witness: DCP Special Cell Sanjeev Kumar Yadav. continued…
On Friday, the first question to the AAP was related to its “anti-national activities”.