Twenty years after their arrest, 124 Muslim accused were acquitted by a trial court in Gujarat on Saturday. All of them were arrested for attending a convention allegedly held by the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in Sagrampura in Surat.
The single bench of Chief Judicial Magistrate A N Dave acquitted them since no evidence was found in the alleged case.
Out of all the accused five died during trial. The detainees include some prominent Muslim leaders, who were not members of SIMI.
“The prosecution failed to produce ‘cogent, reliable and satisfactory’ evidence to establish that the accused persons belonged to the SIMI and had gathered to promote any unlawful activity” the Court order said.
Moreover, the court stated that the accused persons cannot be held guilty under the UAPA.
The case opened on December 27-30, 2001, when a rendezvous was organised at Rajashree Hall in Surat to discuss the educational rights of Muslims. The said formal gathering was organised by The All India Minority Education Board and was the 8th seminar on the “Constitutional Provisions for Minorities’ Educational Rights.”
The topics of discussion were “The Role of Minority Education in Promotion of National Integration,”, “Contribution of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan in the Educational Field,” and “Social Service and its Education in India.”
Prominent people from all parts of the country, which includes authors, teachers, scholars and religious leaders were present at the event.
Asif Anwar Sheikh aka Asif Iqbal of Mriguan Tekra in Begumpura and Hanif Multani of Kosamba had organised the event.
During the event, police raided the rendezvous and arrested everyone present and charged them under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 and claimed that they were part of SIMI.
The SIMI was banned by the BJP-led central government on September 27, 2001.
The acquitted people belong to different parts of Gujarat, some of them are from Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar as well.