Despite an additional district and sessions court in the Karnataka town of Hubli on Thursday acquitting 17 Muslim youths on charges of terrorism and criminal conspiracy for their association with the proscribed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), only three of them will walk free since the others are under trial in cases registered in other parts of India.
Yahya Kamukutty, 39, an electronics engineer from Mallapuram in Kerala; Allah Baksh Yadawad, 30, a former medical student from Hubli; and Syed Sadiq Sameer, 40, a college dropout from Bangalore, who was out on bail, will be freed after sessions court judge Gopal Krishna Kolli gave the 17 men the “benefit of doubt” seven years after their arrests.
The parents of Yahya Kamukutty and Allah Baksh Yadawad pleaded that their sons would never get involved in unlawful activities when they were arrested in 2008. “My son is innocent. He is quiet and reserved boy. I cannot believe the police version,” said Veeran Kutty, Yahya’s father, who is a small trader in Kerala.
A 1996 graduate from Regional Engineering College, Kozhikode, Yahya was 33 when he was arrested. He had worked as a software engineer with GE in Bangalore before reportedly being asked to leave in April 2007 over “conduct issues”. He was alleged to have begun closely associating with SIMI, funding some of their activities.
Allah Baksh Yadawad was 23 and studying to be a doctor at the government-run Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences, Hubli, when he was arrested in January 2008. He was accused of instigating students at the college into joining SIMI.
“Is it wrong to be religious? I am also religious. If he is really guilty let him be punished. I don’t want any mercy for him,” Yadawad’s father Waliallah Yadwad, an employee with the South Western Railway, had said after his son’s arrest. “It is wrong to brand a person terrorist just because he grows a beard and engages in religious discussion,” he had said.
The 40-year-old Syed Sadiq Sameer had already been incarcerated and released in the 2001 SIMI meeting case in Surat when he was arrested in the 2008 Karnataka SIMI case. He was accused of participating in SIMI meetings. Four years ago, he was granted bail and was the only person in the case who obtained bail during the trial.
Among the other 14 acquitted, as many as 12, including alleged senior SIMI leaders Safdar (45), and Kamruddin Nagori (40) of Madhya Pradesh, Peedical Shibly (37), and Shaduly (32) of Kerala, and Raziuddin Nasir (30) of Hyderabad are still facing trial in the 2007 Wagamon SIMI training camp case and the 2013 attempt to escape from the Sabarmati Jail.
The 2007 Wagamon SIMI camp case has as-many-as 38 alleged SIMI activists who are accused of participating in a secret training camp held at Thangalpara in Wagamon in Kerala’s Kottayam district in 2007. Participants in the camp allegedly “engaged in physical training, arms training, firing practice, manufacture of petrol bombs, motor bike racing, rope climbing” and “conspired to disrupt communal harmony”.
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