Mulnivasi Muslim Manch (MMM), a Pune-based outfit, has opposed the ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and claimed that the investigations that pointed to the involvement of SIMI operatives in terror cases were “suspicious”.
Anjum Inamdar, president of MMM, on Friday approached the tribunal constituted by the central government to ascertain whether there was sufficient cause to extend the ban on SIMI.
The tribunal, presided by Delhi High Court Judge Mukta Gupta and comprising Additional Solicitor General Pinki Anand, senior lawyer Sachin Datta and others, has already held hearings in Pune on May 3 and 4, and began its hearings in Aurangabad on Friday.
Inamdar, who reached the tribunal on Friday afternoon a few minutes after Justice Gupta had adjourned the hearing for the day, told The Indian Express, “I came with my say on a letterhead of my organisation. Justice Gupta told me that I have reached a few minutes late, but she was interested in hearing my side. Justice Gupta told me that I should submit my say on Saturday in the form of an affidavit and not on the letterhead of my organisation. I will do that”.
“We oppose the ban on SIMI. I have been an activist for many years and have closely seen many of the suspects arrested in different terror cases and branded as SIMI operatives. I found that the investigation done in these cases by different agencies was suspicious. Injustice was done to persons falsely arrested in terror cases. I want to bring before the tribunal the other side of the story, which I believe to be true,” he said.
Inamdar said his affidavit will comprise details pertaining to the 2010 German Bakery Blast in Pune and the 2014 Faraskhana bomb blast in Pune. He alleged that the investigations in the two terror cases were “suspicious”, and the details he wanted to present before the tribunal were based on information in the recently-published book Brahminists Bombed, Muslims Hanged, authored by former inspector general of Maharashtra Police, S M Mushrif.
“I have been asked to submit four copies of the book along with my affidavit,” said Inamdar.
Mushrif is also the author of the controversial book, Who Killed Karkare, on the death of former state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare, who was killed in the line of duty during the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai.
Till now, about 50 affidavits have been filed before the tribunal and these include only one from the public, submitted by a former secretary of SIMI from Uttar Pradesh.
During the hearing on Friday, Assistant Commissioner of Police (crime) Bhanupratap Barge, now attached to Pune City Police, deposed before the tribunal. Barge, who was earlier with the Maharashtra ATS, submitted details of the July 2014 Faraskhana bomb blast case, in which he was the investigating officer.
The police officer submitted images of alleged SIMI operatives captured by CCTV cameras and told the tribunal that after the bomb blast at a site near the Dagadusheth Halwai Ganpati Temple in Pune, the suspects went to Swargate bus depot and from there fled to Kolhapur by bus.
“During investigation, the statement of a co-passenger who had travelled in same bus was recorded. This passenger had identified the suspects from the CCTV images….From the investigation done by various agencies and earlier records of the accused in the Faraskhana bomb blast case, it was known they are members of the banned SIMI,” he said.
Of the five accused in the Faraskhana blast case, three had died in a police encounter in Madhya Pradesh and two died in an encounter in Telangana. Two officials from Telangana Police — Assistant Commissioner of Police Usha Vishwanath T and Police Inspector J Ravinder — also deposed before the tribunal on Friday.
ACP Usha submitted details of the alleged role of SIMI operatives in a dacoity at the State Bank of India in Karimnagar in February 2014. Inspector Ravinder submitted details of the alleged role of SIMI operatives in robbing a motorcycle at gun point in April 2015. These two “SIMI operatives”, who were killed in an encounter with Telangana Police in 2015, were allegedly involved in the 2014 Faraskhana bomb blast in Pune. Two more officials from Telangana Police will be deposing before the tribunal on Saturday.
SIMI was first banned in 2001 and the ban was subsequently extended after frequent intervals. The five-year ban imposed on SIMI in 2014 came to end on January 31 this year, after which the central government issued a notification extending the ban on SIMI for a period of five more years. It also constituted the tribunal in February to adjudicate whether there was sufficient cause for declaring SIMI an unlawful association.