SRINAGAR: A court in Gujarat has acquitted two clerics from Baramulla district in north Kashmir in connection with a 2006 ‘terrorism’ case.
The pair had been accused of “involvement in terrorism, allegedly having received training from Lashkar-e-Toiba for potential terrorist activities” in Gujarat.
The acquittal came from Ahmedabad City Additional Sessions Court Judge Prashant Sheth, who pointed out that witness statements did not provide sufficient backing for the prosecution’s case.
According to the judge, there was no concrete evidence linking the accused to any jihadist terror plots or acting on behalf of the banned groups LeT and SIMI, as per a report of The Indian Express.
The two clerics, Bilal Ahmed, also known as Bilal Kashmiri, arrested in 2021, and Saiyed Zabiuddin, arrested in 2012 from Baramulla, had faced charges under IPC sections 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy), 121A (conspiring to commit offenses against the state), 124 (assault on the president, governor, etc, with intent to compel or restrain the exercise of any lawful power), and under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, based on a 2006 complaint by Bharat Patel, the then sub-inspector of Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch (DCB).
The court raised doubts regarding Bharat Patel’s claim of having prior information about the alleged plot by the accused, as it had not been documented in the station diary, in line with established legal procedures.
The Ahmedabad court also noted procedural irregularities, including the absence of a recorded panch witness and the omission of additional witnesses during Zabiuddin’s arrest, who was in judicial custody in New Delhi at the time for another offense.
The Ahmedabad court heard testimonies from 30 prosecution witnesses, including the then ACP of Ahmedabad city police, GL Singhal, who had also investigated the case following the filing of the FIR.
The DCB filed two charge sheets, one in 2013 and another in 2021. The case involved 23 accused, with allegations of connections to the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and LeT, and plans to cause disruption and “target national dignitaries in Gujarat.”
Two accused were acquitted by a sessions court in March 2021, while another was acquitted in April 2022.
The FIR filed at the DCB police station cited information from “intelligence sourcing,” as detailed in the court order, indicating that “Muslim youths from Kashmir and other states were involved in terror activities, with contacts and associates active in Ahmedabad and other parts of Gujarat. Two LeT youth operatives named Imran Kashmiri and Bashir Kashmiri were dispatched to Kashmir, Pakistan, and Bangladesh to train Muslim youths in terror activities. They were operating in Ahmedabad to establish a network for a terror organisation.”
The FIR also alleged that Ilyas Memon, a resident of Shah Alam area in Ahmedabad, was in contact with Imran Kashmiri and received terror training in Kashmir and Bangladesh.