Karnataka Congress Govt drags 23 terror acquits rotting in jail since 14 years to Supreme Court

By Mohd Ismail Khan, TwoCircles.net,

Hyderabad: Twenty three Muslim youths languishing in Karnataka jails for past 14 years on filmsy terror charges received a serious disappointment as Congress Government approached the Supreme Court to challenge their long struggled acquittal from the state High court.

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Two days back aged Ifteqhar Ali received a bulky notice from the Supreme Court at his wielding workshop in Asifnagar informing him about the state appeal against acquittal of his son Farooq Ali. “I tell you, I have always tried to be strong before my family, but when my son was finally acquitted by the High Court I cried out of happiness, but this summons has again brought us back on the verge of despair,” Mr. Ali told TwoCircles.net, narrating in apparent frustration.

Sajjida begum and Raheemunnisa
Sajjida begum and Raheemunnisa

Karnataka Congress Government filed the special leave petition in the Supreme Court Cr. Appeal No. 351-353 of 2014, which TCN has copy of, through special counsel of the state Advocate V.N. Raghupathy who earlier presented in serious matters like Cauvery river dispute. The synopsis of the petition stated that accused Muslim youths “entered into a criminal conspiracy to spread Islam and to commence Jihad in India, to create disharmony among Hindus and Christians and to derail Indian economy.”

In the year 2000, from 21st May to 9th July a series of minor gelatin stick blasts were stroked in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Goa. In a span of just 50 days, 12 churches and one mosque became the target. No one was killed but five persons had suffered minor injuries.

In the initial period, Hindutva groups were in the radar but subsequently SIT arrested 52 Muslim youths belonging to organization Deendar Anjuman in Hyderabad. The organization was immediately banned under UAPA act, all of the 53 accused faced trail in Hyderabad TADA court under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy), Section 121 (waging war against the nation), Section 121A (conspiracy to wage war), Section 124A (sedition) and other different sections of Indian Explosives Act and Explosives Substances Act.

In November 2004, TADA court acquitted 31 from all charges, 21 of them got four year imprisonment for possessing inflammatory literature, a book called ‘Imam-ul-Jihad’ written by founder of Anjuman Maulana Deendar Siddiqui in 1936.

Syeda Mujeeba Begum
Syeda Mujeeba Begum

Twenty three accused were immediately shifted to Karnataka to face trail in special court formed to hear five church blast cases. In November 2008, on the very same charges they were acquitted from TADA court, special court found them guilty and awarded death sentence to 11 Muslim youths on 2 counts and life sentence to 12 other youths for 10 counts.

The only evidence against all of them was a confessional statement of one of the accused given in police custody.

Karnataka High Court in December 2012 on Cr. Appeal No. 1202 of 2008 and Appeal No. 39 of 2009 and RC No. 5 of 2008 set aside special court orders in blast cases finding flaws in awarding punishment solely relying upon confessional statement as evidence. The release of the accused was withheld as the appeal against conviction in two more similar cases was pending, even though judgment is expected soon.

But now the accused Muslim youths will have to add more years to their 14 years count with the case going all the way to Supreme Court.

“Hamare bass ki baat nahi (It is beyond our capacity)”, said Ifteqar with tear in his eyes, “With great difficulties we arranged money to fight cases in special court and High court, I didn’t travel to Karnataka to meet my son in jail thinking to save money to fight his case, travelling to Delhi arranging lawyer is unimaginable for us.”

One among them Hashim Ali
One among them Hashim Ali

“It’s been 14 years how much patience I can have, I am hopeless now with case going to supreme court I am sure my son will rot and die in prison.”

Many aged mothers who were desperately waiting the return of their beloved since 14 years is devastated to say the least with the news.

Syeda Mujeeba Begum Mother of Hashim Ali told that her last wish was to hug his son before going to grave that now she thinks is a distant dream. “We thought only two cases was pending now in the High Court, that judgment was expected on similar lines which lawyer said is due in the end of the July. I thought I will meet my son after the Eid, but now…,” she whined, as she looked for words.

she kept silent for a while holding her tear, then said, “I am not sure I will ever meet my son again, if it took us 14 years to fight in lower courts, I can only imagine fighting in Supreme Court.” Hashim Ali was 27 years old and married when arrested; now he is 41 and divorced.

Sajjida Begum mother of Izhar Baig, sitting in her humble house was wondering, “We can’t understand why Congress is doing this to us,” she said, adding, “When Rehman Khan was the Minister he made big promises to release innocent Muslim youths, now when Muslims are getting acquitted from the High Court, his own party, his own Government, in his own state is running to Supreme Court to stop their release.”

Ifteqhar Ali showing the notice from the Supreme Court.
Ifteqhar Ali showing the notice from the Supreme Court.

Skeletonised with obscurity of life Raheemunnisa mother of Akheel Ahmed jumps in to vent her anger, “Now I think all of them (politicians) are hypocrites, no one care for Muslims.”

Almost all of the families of the accused are economically weak. Many of the relatives of the accused TCN spoke to express their helplessness in arranging lawyer on their behalf in Supreme Court. One of the brothers of the accused who doesn’t want to be named told that they sold their only property to arrange for the cost of fighting in lower court and High Court and with Supreme Court appeal becoming another hurdle, he said it seems to be the end of the tunnel for poor families and the dozens of accused perishing their youth in prison on trivial terror charges.


Justice denied, now waiting for judgment: Sheikh Hashim Ali’s 13 years’ incarceration