The Gujarat High Court on February 14 rejected the regular bail application of an alleged ISIS suspect, Obaid Mirza, who was arrested from Ankleshwar in 2017 and was chargesheeted with the claim that Mirza along with another accused had “confessed to planning to kill” Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha leader Kamlesh Tiwari. The claim was later denied by the Uttar Pradesh police.
Tiwari was murdered at his Lucknow home in October 2019.
Mirza, represented by advocate Asim Pandya, contended that he had no criminal antecedent and had been in judicial custody for nearly two-and-half years since October 2017 despite the investigation getting over. It was also submitted that the custodial interrogation of Mirza yielded no incriminating material and that the entire case of the prosecution was based on “social medial posts and intercepted communications”.
The accused was under technical surveillance from 2013 to 2017 when “no attempt was made to commit any offence except discussion about how funds can be created by smuggling of cigarettes, gold or old cars and a desire to buy a pistol”, thereby not making a case of the serious offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, as Mirza was chargesheeted with.
Mirza along with Kasim Stimberwala, were accused of planning a lone wolf terror attack on a local synagogue in Ahmedabad and in Maharashtra. However, counsel Pandya contended that the chargesheet does not include a single chat or telephonic conversation between Mirza and Stimberwala or any other person relating to lone wolf attack or attack on synagogue.
The bail application was opposed by public prosecutor Mitesh Amin, who referred to several statements by witnesses along with forensic report and WhatsApp chats to establish “ample material evidence”.
One witness stated that he was added to a WhatsApp group and was “motivated towards jihadi ideology and was instigated to perform Hijrah to ultimately join ISIS through Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq”, further implicating Mirza of having asked for “ideas to carry out lone wolf attacks”.
Justice Vipul Pacholi also relied on WhatsApp chats wherein the accused purportedly mentioned, “Our war is against the Indian Army, the Murtad police of Kashmir, Government of India, their officers and their political structure…”
The court observed that “serious allegations are levelled” and that “there is sufficient material against” Mirza.
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