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A man from Kalyan, who was arrested in 2014 on terror charges after he left the country allegedly to join the Islamic State (IS), has told a Mumbai court that he would like to argue his own case. 27-year-old Areeb Majeed filed an application in this regard before the special court to which he was brought from Arthur Road Jail on Thursday. Majeed told the court that as the documents in his case were “voluminous”, running into 25,000 pages, he felt no lawyer would be able to devote adequate time to prepare for the case. He further told the court that the lawyers representing him were busy with other matters and that this may delay the trial. He said that as he had been in prison for over three years, he wanted to ensure the trial could be completed expeditiously.
The court directed his lawyers to file their say on the application and also directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to file a reply. The trial against Majeed began last month with the first prosecution witness deposing against him. On Thursday, even as two more witnesses came before the court, their deposition was deferred after Majeed’s application.
Majeed, a student of engineering, boarded an Etihad Airways flight in May 2014 for Abu Dhabi along with three others – Aman Tandel, Fahad Sheikh and Faheem Tanki. The four of them then travelled to Baghdad, after which Majeed separated from his travel companions, allegedly in order to join the IS. The NIA had claimed that there was evidence to show that Majeed was a follower of the IS and its ideology. According to the NIA, he was arrested in November from Mumbai airport when he returning “with some ulterior motive”.
Earlier this month, the court had observed that as IS was not declared a terrorist organisation prior to February 2015, when Majeed was already in custody, charges could not be framed against him. He currently faces charges including waging war against any Asiatic power in alliance with the Government of India and Sections 16 (terrorist act) and 18 (conspiracy) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.