Sunday, April 18

Surat court acquits 122 accused of being SIMI members 20 years after arrest

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A court in Gujarat’s Surat on Saturday acquitted all the 127 accused arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for participating in a meeting organised here in December 2001.

Most of the accused were in jail for over 20 years since their arrest over the allegations of being members of a banned organisation Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), an advocate said.

The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate AN Dave on Saturday acquitted 127 persons arrested on the charges of being members of the banned outfit SIMI, giving them the benefit of doubt.

Advocate Abdul Wahab Shaikh said the court acquitted the accused after accepting the defence arguments.

“In 2001, people from various parts of the country participated in an event organized at Rajeshree Hall in the Sagrampura area under the banner of All India Minority Education Board. The police raided the event in the night on December 27 as it thought SIMI members were participating in the event. Police arrested many people. The hearing of the case went on for 20 years,” he said.

“On Saturday, the court acquitted all the 127 accused. The court accepted defence arguments stating that the accused did not belong to the SIMI and had gathered there to participate in a seminar organised under the banner of the All India Minority Education Board. The court acquitted all the accused persons and said they cannot be held guilty under the UAPA,” he added.

Hanif Vohra, one of the accused who was granted bail after 14 months in jail recalled the time spent in jail.
“I was in jail for 14 months. I was granted bail later. My family suffered financially and psychologically. Now, the court acquitted all accused and I am happy over the verdict,” he said.

The central government had through its notification dated September 27, 2001, banned SIMI.