LUCKNOW: The Samajwadi Party (SP) government in Uttar Pradesh has now initiated proceedings to withdraw 198 criminal cases pending against 489 Muslims in the state, but none of them happens to be a terror accused. Instead, more than 140 accused in the list are facing criminal charges related to public protests that had ended in violence. Another 32 accused in the list are facing charges under Prevention of Atrocities against Schedule Castes & Schedule Tribes (SC/ST) Act.
Recently, the first attempt of the state government to withdraw terror cases received a jolt on May 10 when a district court in Barabanki dismissed the government petition seeking withdrawal of charges against two alleged Harkat-ul-Jehad-e-Islami (HuJI) activists in jail for the serial blasts in district courts in 2007. Earlier, on November 23, 2012, the Allahabad high court, disposing of a petition challenging the government’s initiative, observed “Today, you are withdrawing cases against them; tomorrow will you give them the Padma Bhushan.”
The government was now looking for other options to handle terror cases.
The list includes names of district level SP leaders, ministers and MLAs, apart from 74 students of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) who were booked in two separate protests that were held on the campus in 2011. The list also includes 5 different cases in which a total of 146 persons have been named as accused. The SP had, in its manifesto for the 2012 assembly polls promised to “withdraw terror charges against innocent Muslims languishing in jail”, if the SP forms the government.
The SP won the polls with a clear majority. However the very first attempt to withdraw terror cases got a jolt on November 23, 2012 when the Allahabad High Court, disposing off a petition challenging the government’s initiative, observed “Today you are withdrawing cases against them, tomorrow will you give them the Padma Bhushan.” Eventually on May 10, a district court in Barabanki dismissed a government petition seeking withdrawal of charges against two alleged Harkat-Ul-Jehad-e-Islami (HuJI) activists.
Coming at a time when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has already questioned decision of the Akhilesh government to award financial compensation to the family members of Khalid Mujahid, a terror accused who died under mysterious circumstances in police custody on May 18, describing it as a politically motivated move, withdrawing cases against 498 Muslims is sure to trigger another debate in the political circles over this initiative of the SP government in Uttar Pradesh.
Interestingly, in most of the 198 cases shortlisted for withdrawal of charges, the investigating officer (IO) have filed a Final Report which is submitted in cases when the investigators fail to collect evidence against the accused or find that the charges leveled against the named accused were baseless. At least eight of the cases in the list were lodged during the previous SP regime.
The oldest of the cases being withdrawn dates back to the 1992 protests against demolition of the disputed structure in Ayodhya in which Masood Madni, Anwarul Haq and Nazar Usmani were booked by the Deoband police in Saharanpur against case crime number 622/1992 under sections 147, 148, 149, 295, 436 427 and 153 (A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Masood Madni happens to be a relative of Maulana Arshad Madni who heads the Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind (JeUH).
The list also includes two cases pending against minister of state for Khadi and village industries Riyaz Ahmed lodged at Barkherda and Sungarhi police stations of Pilibhit and sitting SP MLA from Bhadohi Zahid Beg and his aide pending with the Bhadohi police. Both cases were lodged during the last Bahujan Samaj Party regime in Uttar Pradesh.