The NIA court in Kochi has granted bail to an alleged IS supporter, who has been in judicial custody since June 2019 after he was arrested by the agency during a probe into Indian links to the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka.
Granting bail to Sheik Hidayathullah alias Firoz Khan (38), a native of Coimbatore, Special Judge P Krishna Kumar observed, “There is nothing on record to show that the petitioner has actually associated with, or professed to have associated with ISIS, without which Section 38 of UAPA Act will not come into play. As the term ‘support’ does not mean mere emotional or ideological support, without any further physical acts, Section 39 of UAPA Act is also not attracted.”
The bail was granted last Thursday after the court’s perusal of the charge sheet and case diary. It is the first time that an alleged ISIS supporter has been granted bail in Kerala.
A bail plea by another accused, Mohammed Azarudheen, was rejected.
The two were arrested and chargesheeted under Section 120 B of IPC, read with Sections 38 and 39 of the UAPA.
The prosecution has alleged that the accused have been active members of the IS from 2017 and conspired to further its activities by forming a module. They propagated IS ideology in Tamil Nadu and Kerala by various means to recruit youths into the outfit, and used to watch speeches of radical speakers such as Anwar Al-Awlaqi, Abu Bara, Moosa Cerantonio, Zahran Hashim of Srilanka, the prosecution claimed.
The court said in order to attract Section 38 of the UAPA Act, there should be materials to show that the accused had associated themselves with IS and it was done with the particular intention to further the activities of the terror group. The judge observed that ideological or emotional support may result in subjugation to such organisations in the future. “The alleged intention of the petitioner might be highly immoral or devilish, but the records do not show that he carried it further so as to attract the consequences contemplated in the said penal provisions,” said the judge.
Referring to the digital evidence, the court said the Facebook account of Firoz Khan does not show that he made any post related to IS or pictures showing the IS flag. “However, he posted a photograph of a soft drink bottle and two detached wires, with a quote of Anwar AlAwlaqi, a person who is said to be propagating Islamic ideology. Neither the picture in the post nor the words expressed in it is prima facie sufficient to show that the petitioner is associated with IS or that he posted the same to further its activity.’’
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