Anjum Inamdar (53), the first public witness deposing before the tribunal constituted by the central government to ascertain whether there was sufficient cause to extend the ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), on Saturday said all his knowledge and opinion about the banned outfit was based on reports in newspapers and information in books.
Inamdar, president of Pune-based organisation Muslim Mulnivasi Manch (MMM), also submitted an affidavit before the tribunal, which is currently conducting hearings in Aurangabad. The tribunal is presided by Justice Mukta Gupta. The only other public affidavit received by the tribunal is from a former general secretary of SIMI in Uttar Pradesh.
Inamdar told Justice Gupta that during the hearings in Pune earlier this month, police “submitted incomplete information” before the tribunal about two terror cases in the city – the German Bakery Blast of February 13, 2010, and the Faraskhana bomb blast on July 16, 2014.
Inamdar told the court that Himayat Baig, an accused in the German Bakery blast case, was found guilty and awarded the death penalty by a lower court in Pune, but the order was set aside by the Bombay High Court. “The High Court acquitted
Baig in the bomb blast case, but convicted him and sentenced him to life imprisonment over the recovery of explosives from his residence. So, the real accused were not arrested by the state Anti-Terrorism Squad,” he submitted.
Inamdar also claimed that there was no evidence against the five accused in the Faraskhana blast case. The five men, who were allegedly members of SIMI, were killed in encounters in Telangana and Madhya Pradesh. Inamdar told the tribunal that while the ATS had closed the investigation in the Faraskhana case as all the accused had died, lawyer Tosif Shaikh, a member of MMM, had filed an application before the court in 2017, requesting that the case be reopened. He said the ATS had filed its reply to the plea in December 2017, but the court had not passed any order on the matter till now.
Inamdar claimed that police did not probe the role of certain individuals in the German Bakery blast case and the Faraskhana bomb blast case. He said that he got this information from the book “Brahminists Bombed, Muslims Hanged,” authored by former Inspector General of Maharashtra Police S M Mushrif. The book was taken on record by the tribunal.
Inamdar also told Justice Gupta he was not satisfied with his deposition as he may have left out some information, and requested that his lawyer be allowed to appear before the tribunal. Justice Gupta granted his request.
Additional Solicitor General Pinki Anand, a member of the tribunal, took objection to the tendering of Inamdar’s affidavit as “it was not verified.” During cross-examination by Anand, Inamdar said he was not aware of whether Mushrif was in service when the two blast cases in Pune were investigated. Inamdar also said he had not seen records of the investigations in the two cases.
When Anand asked Inamdar to reply in ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on whether the activities of SIMI were wrong, he said after reading the books and news reports, he realised that the agencies were “targeting a particular community”.
Responding to further questions by Anand, Inamdar said his knowledge and opinions about SIMI were based on books and newspaper reports. Inamdar also said that he read in a newspaper that after 2001, SIMI has not been not involved in any illegal activities.
Asked about the government notification regarding the ban on SIMI, which mentioned 58 terror cases against the banned outfit, Inamdar said he didn’t know about it. He, however, said he had held meetings with a few SIMI activists after the ban and knew one Feroz Pathan among them, but didn’t know if Pathan was still a member of SIMI. Inamdar also told the tribunal that he founded MMM about 10 years ago and the organisation had many supporters in Maharashtra.
Two officials from Telangana, including Police Inspector J Venkateshwarulu and Police Sub-Inspector G V Narayana, also deposed before the tribunal on Saturday.
Inamdar had earlier told The Indian Express that he and his outfit opposed the ban on SIMI and believed that the investigations in many terror cases were “suspicious”.