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Kashmir: J&K High Court grants bail to PDP leader Waheed Para

Para was first arrested under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in November 2020, three days after he filed his nomination for the District Development Council elections in J&K.

PDP leader Waheed-ur-Rehman Para (File)

Terming the evidence produced by J&K Police against PDP leader Waheed-ur-Rehman Para “sketchy” the J&K High Court on Wednesday granted him bail after nearly a year in custody. Para however, has been in jail for the last 17 months.

In its order, the court observed, “Viewed from any angle, the evidence assembled by the investigating agency and relied upon by the prosecution to prosecute the appellant even if accepted as it is without any denial or rebuttal by the appellant, is not such on the basis of which the Court can formulate an opinion that the allegations proved during the investigation are prima facie true.”

The order also notes, “The evidence as is gathered by the prosecution is too sketchy to be believed prima facie true, that too, with a view to deny bail to the appellant.”

Para, who is a close confidant of former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, was first arrested under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, in November 2020, three days after he filed his nominations for the District Development Council (DDC) elections in J&K. He was detained by the NIA in connection with a terror case against former J&K police officer Davinder Singh. He won the DDC election from Pulwama but could not take oath because he was in jail.

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On January 10, 2021 a special court granted bail to Para in the NIA case, saying that the “offences, particularly falling under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), are not prima facie made out”. On the same day, Para was picked up by the Counter Intelligence Kashmir (CIK) and placed in judicial custody. CIK is the anti-militancy intelligence wing of J&K Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

Issuing bail to Para on Wednesday the J&K High Court observed, “Keeping in view the totality of the circumstances and the discussion made herein above, we are of the consider view that the appeal deserves to be allowed.”

In this order, the court deliberated upon two major allegations against Para. One, pertaining to Section 17 of UAPA Act “for raising funds for the terrorist act.”

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“It may be noted that with regard to the aforesaid allegation, the Special Judge, NIA Jammu has already admitted the appellant to bail. The allegation with regard to the plan made by the appellant to procure five AK- 47 rifles may amount to making preparation for committing the offence, but cannot be tantamount to commission of offence under Section 17 of UAPA Act.”

As per the order, the allegation further states “that the aforesaid deal though contemplated, did not materialise and was subsequently abandoned. The allegation has cropped up from the disclosure of one Naveed Babu stating that accused had paid Rs.10 lacs to Irfan Shafi forming subject matter of RC No.01/2020/NIA/JMU.”

The second main allegation pertains to “hobnobbing with a member of a terrorist organisation” with a view to further his political ambition. “On the close scrutiny of the material placed on record in the shape of statements of various witnesses, the prosecution appears to have prima facie established that the appellant was meeting with and was seen in the company of one Yousaf Gadoora, an over-ground worker, a member of terrorist organisation. Whether this meeting was aimed at supporting the terrorist organisation by providing funds and other logistics is not substantiated by any of the statements of the witnesses recorded during investigation. There is no evidence on record which, prima facie, shows that the association of the appellant with the terrorist Yousaf Gadoora was with an intention to further the activities of terrorist organisation.”

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The order also directs Para to make himself available to the investigating officer in the case . He is also required to take prior permission from the trial court before leaving the UT. “He shall surrender his passport, if any, with the investigating officer,” and appear before the trial court in each and every hearing.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said on twitter, “Finally after almost two years, Waheed Para gets bail & I hope he walks out as a free man soon. Would like to thank his lawyer Shariq for fighting his case with such conviction & determination.”

People’s Conference chairman Sajad Lone, who spent several months in incarceration with Para during the 2019 clampdown post the abrogation of Article 370 in Parliament, said on twitter, “What a good news that Wahid Parra has been granted bail. My ex jail mate and youthful friend. He has been through tough times. I am so happy for him and his family. May Allah bless him.”

First published on: 25-05-2022 at 05:10:39 pm
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