Seven years after 17 Muslim men, many of them medical students and engineers, were arrested by the Karnataka police on charges of terrorism and criminal conspiracy, for allegedly being associated with the proscribed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), a trial court in Hubli on Thursday acquitted all of them.
Among those who have been acquitted are Raziuddin Nasir, 30, son of Hyderabad cleric Maulana Nasiruddin, alleged to have trained with the Lashkar-e-Toiba in Pakistan, former all-India SIMI leader Safdar Nagori, 45, of Madhya Pradesh and Hafiz Hussain, a Karnataka engineer.
The others who have been acquitted are Kerala engineers Yahya Kammukutty, 39, brothers Peedical Shibly, 37, and Peedical Shaduly, 32, Karnataka medical students Mohammed Asif, 30, Allah Baksh Yadavad, 30, Mirza Ahmed Baig, 31, homeopathy students Asadullah Akhtar, 30 and Munroz Jaman, 39.
Safdar Nagori’s brother Kamruddin Nagori, 41, Kerala resident Mohammed Ansar, 33, Karnataka residents Shakeel Ahmed Mali, 36, Sadiq Sameer, 40, Mohammed Yasin, 33, and alleged senior SIMI leader Abdus Subhan Qureshi alias Tauqueer who has been absconding were also acquitted.
The investigations into the activities of the alleged SIMI men began in January 2008, following the arrests of Raziuddin Nasir and Asadullah Akhtar in the north Karnataka town of Honnali, after they were found to be using a motorcycle with a fake numberplate.
Investigations led the police to an alleged larger conspiracy involving organisation of Muslim youth to take up arms under the banner of the proscribed SIMI. The case was handed over to the erstwhile Corps of Detectives of Karnataka.
The COD probe reportedly found that over a dozen youths from Karnataka, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh had been attending meetings in different parts of south India, including Karnataka, prior to the arrests. Some meetings were reportedly attended by former senior leaders of SIMI like Safdar Nagori and others.
In the course of the case, a key accused, Raziuddin Nasir, reportedly told the COD that he had received training in the use of arms and explosives under the LeT in Pakistan between 2005-2006.
In a dramatic development during the trial, a bomb exploded in a court hall in Hubli on May 10, 2008 — a day before the accused were set to be produced in court. Investigations later revealed that rogue elements linked to right wing Hindutva groups were involved in the blast.