The accused were arrested in 2007 by the U.P. Special Task Force, which claimed that they were trained Harkat-ul-Jihad-ul-Islam (HuJI) operatives.
“Nine years are wasted. Injustice was done to us. It is sad we cannot fight against the state or those who falsely implicated and arrested my son,” says Mohammad Atlaf Hussain.
An ex-Air Force man, Mr. Hussain is the father of madrasa teacher Ali Akbar, who, along with four others, was acquitted of sedition charges by a special court in Lucknow on Thursday.
The five spent almost nine years in jail on terror charges. The accused were arrested in 2007 by the U.P. Special Task Force, which claimed that they were trained Harkat-ul-Jihad-ul-Islam (HuJI) operatives and were on their way to carry out terror activities in the State.
Last October, the five were acquitted in the terror case for want of evidence beyond reasonable doubt. Of the five acquitted in the sedition case, four persons walked free on Thursday. One, Nur Islam is still facing trial in another case.
While Naushad belongs to Bijnore in west U.P., Ali Akbar Hussain, Sheikh Mukhtar Hussain, Azizurrehman Sardar and Nur Islam are from West Bengal’s 24 North Parganas district.
The accused were booked under various Sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 124A (sedition), 153a (promoting enmity between groups) and 147 (rioting).
On August 12, 2008 while the five accused were produced in court, their counsel Mohammad Shoaib was assaulted by fellow lawyers.
Mr. Shoaib then filed a complaint but an FIR was not registered in the case. Instead, he, along with the five accused, was booked under sedition for allegedly raising anti-India slogans on the court premises.
Rihai Manch, a forum for the release of innocent persons implicated in terror cases, pointed to a trend that terror cases lodged by the U.P. STF often did not stand in court.