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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Behind bars since 2016: Two held for ‘joining IS’ seek to plead guilty, say influenced by propaganda videos

Moshin Sayyed (32) and Rizwan Ahmed (25) filed an application before the special court saying that they had reflected on their actions in prison.

Written by Sadaf Modak | Mumbai |
Updated: December 15, 2021 12:50:16 am
Islamic state, IS, propaganda, Mumbai, Mumbai news, Indian express, Indian express news, Mumbai latest news(Representational/File)

TWO MEN behind bars since 2016 for allegedly joining Islamic State (IS) made a formal plea to plead guilty, claiming that they had been influenced by propaganda videos widely circulated at that time, have realised their mistake and are remorseful.

Moshin Sayyed (32) and Rizwan Ahmed (25) filed an application before the special court saying that they had reflected on their actions in prison.

Special Judge A T Wankhede will decide next week on whether to allow their pleas. If allowed, the court will pronounce its order on their punishment.

On Tuesday, submitting on behalf of the two, lawyer A R Bukhari sought leniency stating that it is not a case where they have actively participated in any terror activities which resulted in loss of life and property. The lawyer also submitted that they had shown willingness to voluntarily accept their guilt.

“Six years ago, I was influenced by IS propaganda videos which were widely circulated on internet at that time. Due to this, I tried to run away from home to join IS. I was unsuccessful in that and was subsequently arrested by the police and am in prison ever since. While in prison, reflecting upon my actions, I have realised my mistake and sincerely regret my error. I am remorseful and regret for my acts of omission and for commission of unlawful acts,” the plea by the two said.

It said they had suffered greatly due to their mistake and wished to rectify it and start a new life and be better persons. While Sayyed’s plea said that he has two minor children, elderly parents and was the sole bread earner of his family, Ahmed’s plea said that that he has to take care of his elderly, ailing parents who have also suffered due to his error. Ahmed’s plea said that he was a teenager and immature at the time and did not understand the gravity of the offence.

The plea further said that their conduct in jail was ‘satisfactory’. “I am pleading guilty voluntarily without any pressure, threat, coercion, inducement or undue influence and that I understand the consequences,” the pleas said.

Special public prosecutor Prakash Shetty representing the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said that the agency had no objection to them pleading guilty.
Shetty’s reply to the plea filed by the two said that they had expressed their voluntariness and were represented by a lawyer of their choice.

Lawyer Bukhari referring to previous orders by other courts said that as per the Criminal Procedure Code, the court can accept such a plea mid-trial.

So far, the court has examined over 35 witnesses and the chargesheet includes names of over 250 witnesses. In 2015, four men had been reported to have gone missing to join IS from Malvani area. While two had returned after developing cold feet and were made witnesses in the case, Sayyed was arrested subsequently. The fourth man, Ayaz Sultan, is named an absconding accused in the case. Ahmed, a resident of Uttar Pradesh, was arrested in 2016. Sayyed and Ahmed were charged with offences including influencing youngsters to join IS. They have been charged under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Sayyed also faces a case in Delhi. Ahmed argued that he had no criminal antecedents.

This is the first case in Maharashtra where the accused arrested in connection with an IS case have sought to plead guilty.

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