At the first hearing in the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) case, a tribunal headed by Delhi High Court Justice Suresh Kait Tuesday scheduled the recording of evidence for April, 23, 24 and 25 at Thiruvananthapuram.
The government had set up the tribunal on February 27 after the seventh and latest extension of the ban on SIMI. The organisation was first banned by the NDA government on September 27, 2001.
Two erstwhile SIMI members, the former president of the organisation’s UP unit, Humam Ahmad Siddiqui, and a former member from West Bengal, Misbah-ul-Islam, have challenged the ban. They are being represented by advocate Ashok Agrawal, while Additional Solicitor General Rajeeve Mehra is appearing for the central government.
In its latest notification, the centre had said that “SIMI is indulging in activities which are prejudicial to the integrity and security of the country, continuing its subversive activities and reorganising its activists who are still absconding, disrupting the secular fabric of the country by polluting the minds of the people by creating communal disharmony, propagating anti-national sentiments, escalating secessionism by supporting militancy”.
To substantiate its argument, the Centre had provided details of 21 cases. According to lawyers for the former SIMI members, these cases do not build a compelling argument.
* Communal tension in Hyderabad: Four cases registered at Hyderabad’s Saidabad police station regarding a communal flare-up after a Hanuman temple was allegedly defiled are among those mentioned. These cases were filed against a large group of people, among whom, according to police, there were three “ex-SIMI cadres”. The police invoked various sections of the Indian Penal Code against the alleged rioters, but not the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Such an incident does not qualify as a “terrorist act”. Lawyers for the two erstwhile SIMI members say “a communal flare-up cannot become a terrorist act or incident as defined under the UAPA merely because of the alleged involvement of a former SIMI member. This amounts to a kind of socio-religious profiling.”
* Azad Maidan, Mumbai: The Centre has cited the August 2012 mob violence in Azad Maidan as an argument to extend the ban. According to the lawyers, this “is proof of the mala fides of the central government” because “neither the alleged rioting incident nor the agitation at Azad Maidan had anything to do with SIMI”.
n Murder case: The Centre has mentioned a case of murder. The lawyers say that one of the five accused was a member of SIMI in the 1980s, while the others have never had any connection with the organisation.
* Jailbreak: The lawyers have argued that cases of jailbreak and attempted jailbreak in Madhya Pradesh’s Khandwa and at Gujarat’s Sabarmati Central Jail cannot grounds to extend the ban on SIMI.
* Attempted murder: According to the lawyers, a case of attempted murder and rioting cited by the government was a “quarrel between two groups who have never had any relationship with SIMI, and it didn’t have any communal or political connotation”.
Lawyers for the ex-SIMI members also say that “the grounds mentioned in the notification should reflect alleged ongoing activities (within the past two years) of the organisation which is sought to be banned”.
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