ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Wrongful Incarceration

Recently, a local court in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh, acquitted 14 persons who had been arrested on 14 June 2011 on charges of being members of SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) and for holding a banned meeting in a residential house in Khandwa town. The police raiding team said that it had recovered seditious literature and arms and Sub-inspector, Hardev Singh Gaur, claimed that he heard the members talk of “continuing Jehad despite arrests of SIMI members.” Since SIMI and IM (Indian Mujahideen) are interchangeable, the case was highlighted in all the major news dailies of the period as a police breakthrough and particularly drew attention to the noted SIMI ultra, Aqueel/Akhil Khilji, in whose house the meeting allegedly happened. While the police arrested 10 members “from the spot” and five others escaped, a case was registered under Section 153A of IPC, Sections 3, 10 and 13 (membership of a banned organisation) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act. Interestingly, among the accused was one Sikh, Jaspal Singh, and a Christian, Bablia Lokash/Lukas Dominique.

The Khandwa court acquitted the 14 accused. The court stated that Sub-inspector Gaur’s testimony could not be relied upon as it was not corroborated by any other police personnel. Constable Safida, who did the translation of the seized documents, admitted that she had Urdu only till Class 10 and was not competent to do the translation. Another constable admitted that he did not understand either English or Arabic, the language of the CDs. The lawyer of Jaspal Singh stated that his client’s name had been misspelt and was written as “Raspal” in more than one place. In short, in its zeal to show its efficiency, the police had fabricated the contents of the case.

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