Updated: February 5, 2021 12:13:35 am
The Bombay High Court on Thursday, while reserving its orders on the National Investigation Agency (NIA) appeal seeking setting aside of the bail granted by the special court to Kalyan-resident Areeb Majeed – accused of having ISIS links – observed that his actions had caused numerous problems for himself and his family. Majeed travelled to Iraq and Syria in 2014 to allegedly join the terror outfit.
A division bench of Justice SS Shinde and Justice Manish Pitale conducted the hearing on the NIA’s appeal against the special court’s March 17, 2020, order which granted bail to Majeed. The hearing continued for over three hours which exceeded the regular court timing.
The bail order, however, had been stayed by the court till March 27, 2020, on a plea by the NIA which said it wanted to file an appeal against the order in the Bombay High Court. The high court had continued stay on operation of the special court’s order.
Majeed was part of a group of pilgrims travelling to Iraq in May, 2020 along with three others — Aman Tandel, Fahad Sheikh and Saheem Tanki. The NIA had claimed that the four separated from the tour group and joined the ISIS and carried out terror acts. It also said Majeed was arrested on November 28, 2014, after he returned to the country with “ulterior motives”.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh for the NIA argued that Majeed had returned with an intention to carry out terror activities and had sustained bullet injury in Iraq. Singh submitted Majeed’s picture where he was allegedly holding a weapon and said he was involved in “terrorist activities”.
However, Majeed, who appeared in person before the court, said: “The entire charge is about being in Iraq between June and November 2014. The present trial is not for any offences in India, against India or anything pertaining to India. The charge of ulterior motive is not present in the chargesheet, but was later added by the prosecution.”
He added that based on an application by his father, the NIA through the Indian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, had made arrangements of his return from Istanbul. “They (NIA) do not want to admit the role they had played in my return,” Majeed argued.
Justice Pitale asked Majeed, “Why would a 21-year-old go to Iraq, who is studying, would leave family, to be with people you don’t even know and haven’t met in life? Don’t you have enough suffering around you? By leaving your family behind. You may be immature at that time like you said. Imagine the suffering you’ve imposed on your family and parents.”
Majeed responded, “As soon as I realised, I came back. My father had applied to the NIA.” The bench said: “You have no idea what your parents must have gone through. You cannot imagine.” “Even I have suffered for the past six years after they kept me away from them (family),” Majeed said.
“I will not shy away from what wrong I have done, but the accusations that the NIA has made such as involvement in terrorist activities are hard to digest. The NIA cannot assume things for future. Aggrieved parties can always approach the court in that case,” Majeed said.
When the bench sought to know how he was spending time in jail, Majeed said he would study law. Justice Pitale said, “If you had utilised your abilities and skills to the best when you were 21, that would have been a matter of joy for your family and the country too.”
The judges also reviewed video clips produced by the NIA to bolster their arguments in chamber and thereafter resumed further hearing. The court reserved its verdict, which is to be pronounced on February 23, and directed the Mumbai Central prison on Arthur Road to produce Majeed before the court on that day.
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