Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed, his deputy Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim on Wednesday became the first individuals to be designated as “terrorist” under the newly amended Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Parliament had passed the UAPA amendment Bill in July this year, empowering the government to designate even individuals as terrorists. The Act earlier had provision to only designate organisations as “terrorist”.
The government had argued that this was in keeping with international norms and laws, and pointed out that even the United Nations designates individuals as terrorists. It said the move would help clamp down on financial resources and assets of individual terrorists even if they disassociate themselves with an organisation, or in cases where they dissolve a banned outfit and float another under a different name and form.
When the UAPA was amended in July this year to allow the government to designate even individuals, fears were expressed from the Opposition that it would be misused to target people, including civil rights activists. However, with designation of the likes of Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed as terrorists, the government messaging appears to be a move to allay those fears — it is a high bar with which no one can have a quibbling.
The move had met with criticism from many in the Opposition ranks, who said it could be misused, while Home Ministry officials pointed out that there are many safeguards in the law to prevent its misuse.
On July 27, The Indian Express had reported that these four individuals would be the first to be declared terrorist under the amended UAPA.
A gazette notification on proscribing the four individuals was issued on Wednesday. In the case of JeM’s Masood Azhar, the notification stated that he had been proscribed by the UN. It stated: “Jaish-e-Mohammad under the patronage of Azhar, extensively undertakes recruitment drives for terrorist activities and his preaching wings regularly organise events in order to urge people to promote terrorism and support their actions against India.” It said Azhar was involved in five terror attacks: October 2001 attack on J&K Assembly, 2001 Parliament attack, 2016 Pathankot airbase attack, various attacks on CRPF, BSF and Army camps in 2017-18, and the Pulwama attack this February.
For Hafiz Saeed, the notification cited the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, December 2001 Red Fort attack, January 2001 Rampur CRPF camp attack, and August 2015 attack on a BSF convoy in Kashmir. “Saeed is accused in various cases registered and being investigated by the NIA, which inter-alia include J&K terror conspiracy and terror funding case and Dukhtaran-E-Millat case.” It stated that a chargesheet had been filed against him in the David Headley case in 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
LeT operational commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who is also a key accused in 26/11 attacks, has also been designated a terrorist citing the same cases as that of Saeed.
On 1993 Mumbai blasts-accused Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, the notification stated that he “runs an international underworld crime syndicate and is involved in perpetrating acts of terror, promoting religious fundamentalism, terror financing, arms smuggling, circulation of counterfeit currency, money laundering, narcotics, extortion and benami real estate business in India and abroad”.
It noted that Dawood has already been proscribed by the UN Security Council’s IS and al-Qaeda sanction committee “for participating in financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating of acts…or otherwise supporting activities of Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda and Taliban”.
It listed his various aliases — Dawood Hasan Shiekh Kaskar, Dawood Sabri, Iqbal Seth, Bada Patel, Abdul Hamid, Abdul Aziz, Anis Ibrahim, Aziz Dilip, Shaikh Mohd Ismail Abdul Rehman, among others.