Less than three months after filing an appeal challenging a Lucknow court’s acquittal of six Muslim men, arrested on terror charges in 2007, the Akhilesh Yadav government is reportedly now considering withdrawing the appeal. The six were acquitted on October 30 last year after eight years in jail.
SP MLA from Azamgarh’s Nizamabad constituency, Alam Badi, said he met Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav two days ago with a request to withdraw the appeal. “The chief minister has given an assurance that the appeal would be withdrawn. Since the court has not granted the appeal so far, the application requesting for ‘not pressed’ would be filed in court,” Bedi said.
Asked about the government’s stand, Additional Advocate General Zafaryab Jilani said, “I have yet to study the appeal. I will send my opinion to the government regarding the option of withdrawal of appeal for a final decision… if I am asked (for my view). The appeal has not been admitted in court yet.”
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The six acquitted by the ADJ court are Naushad Hafiz from Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh and Mukhtar Hussain, Mohammad Ali Akbar, Aziz-ur-Rehman, Jalaluddin (alias Babu Bhai) and Noor Islam from West Bengal. While acquitting them, the court had observed that the prosecution had failed to establish its theory about their alleged involvement in anti-national activities. The court also noted there is serious abnormality and disparities in evidence, which made the prosecution’s statements “unbelievable”.
The UP government had filed a grant of leave to appeal against the lower court’s acquittal order in February this year. On February 29, the court summoned the lower court’s records and listed the matter after six weeks for consideration of prayer for grant of leave to appeal from the acquittal.
The matter last came up for hearing on May 10, but the state sought an adjournment. It has now been listed for August.
The six were arrested by UP Special Task Force and accused of being involved in anti-national activities, and also booked for being members of the banned Harkat-ul-Jihadi Al Islami (HuJI).
The STF had claimed to have arrested Naushad and Babu Bhai on June 23, 2007 from Lucknow’s Wazirganj. The STF claimed that the duo — along with Mukhtar Hussain, Mohammad Ali Akbar and Aziz-ur-Rehman — had arrived from Bengal to execute “anti-national activities”. Waiting for Naushad and Babu Bhai at Charbagh station, the others learnt that the two had been arrested. Then they buried 10 hand grenades, 10 detonators and other explosives they were purportedly carrying near a construction site in Mohanlalganj and returned to Bengal, the STF had said. It had claimed to have arrested three from Bengal and another man, Noor Islam, later. The explosives, too, were allegedly recovered.
After acquittal, Babu Bhai was sent to Bengal to face trial in two other cases. Five others were acquitted in another case of sedition in January. Barring Noor Islam, serving life imprisonment, others are out of jail.