Eleven Muslims Acquitted 25 Years After Being Charged Under Anti-Terrorism Law

The men were arrested in May 1994 for allegedly conspiring to avenge the Babri Masjid demolition and obtaining terror training.

New Delhi: A Nashik court on Wednesday acquitted 11 Muslim men nearly 25 years after they were first charged and arrested under the now-repealed Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) (TADA) Act.

According to an Urdu daily, citing a lack of evidence and violation of the TADA guidelines, Justice S.C. Khati of Nashik’s Special TADA Court ordered their acquittal on February 27.

Socio-religious NGO Jamiat Ulema had provided legal assistance to the 11 men: Jameel Ahmed Abdullah Khan, Mohammed Yunus Mohammed Ishaq, Farooque Nazir Khan, Yusuf Gulab Khan, Ayyub Ismail Khan, Waseemuddin Shamsuddin, Shaikha Shafi Shaikh Azeez, Ashfaq Syed Murtuza Meer, Mumtaz Syed Murtuza Meer, Haroon Mohammed Bafati and Moulana Abdul Qader Habibi.

The 11, according to The Siasat Daily, were arrested from different parts of the country on May 28, 1994 and charged under section 120 (B) and 153 of IPC and Section 3(3)(4)(5) and Section 4(1)(4) of TADA Act for allegedly conspiring to avenge the December 1992 Babri Masjid demolition and obtaining terror training.

Also read: Who Will Return Our Precious Years, Ask the Wrongfully Incarcerated

As per a July 2018 Hindustan Times report, the 11 accused include a doctor and an electronics engineer. They were alleged to have conspired to bomb a railway station and a power plant in Maharashtra’s Bhusawal.

After being taken into custody in May 1994, the accused were granted bail within months. The case then got stuck due to doubts over the applicability of TADA against the accused. In November 2016, the Supreme Court intervened, ordering a speedy hearing in the case.

Gulzar Azmi, in-charge of the Jamiat Ulema legal cell, was quoted as saying: “Justice has not been denied but these men have lost so many years of their precious life. Who is responsible for this? Will the government pay for their loss and return their dignity? The families of these men have also suffered a lot while some members of their families have also died.”