SRINAGAR: The NIA Court, on Monday, presided over by Sandeep Gandotra, an Additional Sessions Judge designated under the NIA Act in Srinagar, has refused bail to ten leaders affiliated with the J&K Liberation Front and Hurriyat Conference. These leaders had been apprehended and charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The court made its decision based on the nature of the offenses outlined in the FIR, asserting that the accused individuals were not eligible for bail at this juncture. The court cited Section 43(D), proviso 5, which applies to the current case, and concluded that granting bail to the accused individuals would jeopardise public interests and the interests of the Union Territory. Consequently, the court dismissed the bail applications.
The accused individuals, including Firdous Ahmad Shah, Jahangir Ahmad Bhat, Saheel alias Suhail Ahmad Mir, Khursheed Ahmad Bhat, Syed Rehman Shams alias Shams-u-din Rehmani, Sajad Hussain Gul, Mohammad Rafiq Pahloo alias Salim Nanaji, Gh. Hassan Parray alias Firdousi, Mohammed Yaseen Bhat, and Shabir Ahmad Dar, have been charged under sections 10, 13, and 18 of the UAP Act.
The court highlighted that serious allegations had been made against all the accused individuals by protected witnesses who had attended the meeting in question. Incriminating materials, including letters from Yaseen Malik advocating for the freedom of J&K and photographs depicting “Kashmir Banega Pakistan,” were also seized from some of the accused individuals.
Furthermore, the court noted that some of the accused individuals had engaged in communication with militants across the border in Pakistan on the day before and the morning of the meeting on 09/07/2023. Investigations involving CCTV and DVR footage from Habib restaurant, electronic gadgets, and laptops are ongoing, with extensive reports running into thousands of pages.
The report concerning accused Mohd Yaseen Bhat consists of 55,000 pages, and the court considered the submission by the APP that adequate time would be required for a thorough investigation. Since all the accused individuals are being probed for conspiracies under Section 121-A IPC and Section 18 of the UAP Act, and their liabilities for conspiracies are joint, none of them can claim at this stage that they are not responsible for the actions of the other accused individuals.
The court was informed that on 09/07/2023, the police took 43 persons from Habib Restaurant to the police station, out of which 33 were released, and only 10 were accused individuals. The IO admitted that the 43 persons present at the meeting were taken to the police station, and 32 persons and one juvenile were allowed to leave after furnishing bonds, as nothing incriminating was found concerning them.
Based on preliminary questioning, past history, and statements of prosecution witnesses, the court found prima facie involvement of the alleged accused persons. During the investigation, 10 mobile phones were recovered and seized from these accused individuals during personal searches. Therefore, they were formally arrested in case FIR No.23/2023 under sections 10, 13 of UAPA, and 121-A IPC at P/S Kothibagh on 10/07/2023.
In light of these facts and evidence, the court concluded that sections 10, 13, 18 of UA(P) Act and 121-A have been established against the accused individuals. The investigation is ongoing to gather additional evidence and corroborate the commission of the crime. Consequently, the court expressed concerns that granting bail to the accused individuals at this stage might result in interference with or tampering of the evidence collected during the investigation.