The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has submitted draft charges against Anees Shakil Ahmed Ansari, who was arrested in 2014 for an alleged conspiracy to attack an American school in Mumbai. The ATS proposes to try Ansari on charges including cyber terrorism and criminal conspiracy.
After dropping section 66A of the Information Technology Act, which was repealed by the Supreme Court in 2015, the ATS has submitted that Ansari should be booked under Sections 43 (a) (penalty and compensation for damage to computer and computer system) and 66F (punishment for cyber terrorism) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and under Section 115 (abetment of offence punishable with death or life imprisonment) read with section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
According to the draft charges submitted by special public prosecutor Madhukar Dalvi, during the period between August 2011 and October 2014, Ansari created an account on Facebook using a fake identity and used it to chat with people. The ATS claims that he ‘misused’ computer devices and the internet connection of the IT company he was working with in Andheri for these activities. The ATS claims that between October 13 and 18, 2014, Ansari used the computer devices to ‘spread terror activities’ propagated by Islamic State and to induce others to join it.
The ATS claims that Ansari was chatting with a person named Omar Elhaj and that they hatched a conspiracy to commit a ‘lone wolf’ attack’ on an American school in Mumbai. The ATS claims that he procured information on making of a bomb, and also shared it.
Ansari, who has been in prison since 2014, had sought discharge in 2015, claiming that there was “no admissible piece of evidence” to show that he had entered into a conspiracy or made any preparation towards it. In March this year, the court rejected the discharge application and allowed the ATS to submit draft charges against him. In the next hearing, the court is likely to frame charges against Ansari.