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Published in the 16-31 July 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Life for 16
POTA slapped on Muslim Youth 
By Ibrahim Usmani

Hyderabad: Sixteen associates of Azam Ghouri, who was killed in an “encounter” last year, were convicted on charges of murder and criminal conspiracy against the State and sentenced to life imprisonment by a special court in Hyderabad on 28 June.

The Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge who tried eight cases against the accused found them guilty of murdering a businessman, and of criminal conspiracy against the State. The accused belonged to the Indian Muslim Mohammadi Mujahideen (IMMM) setup by Azam Ghouri to carry out “terrorist activities” in India at the behest of Lashkar-e-Toiba according to police claims. They were also accused of exploding low intensity bombs in three cinema halls around AP. A case of conspiracy against the State by causing social unrest and religious disaffection through violence was booked against them.

Lateef Mohammed Khan, secretary of the Civil Liberties Committee, in a press note stated that the environment in which these youths were tried is against the principles of the international judicial system. They were tried in such far off places where even their lawyers could not reach. This cannot be called a free and fair trial. He appealed to the government to let these youths prove their innocence by giving them a fair chance.

Meanwhile, on 28 June, POTA was applied on the Muslim youth, Anees Mohiuddin, who was arrested on 10 June on charges of ISI link and was secretly sent to Bangalore for Narco Analysis Test by the state police on 7 July, although an assurance was given by both the Chief Minister YS Rajshekhar Reddy and Home Minister K Jana Reddy that he would not be taken for the test. Even Anees’ lawyer was not informed about it. The All India Majlis-e Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) MLAs had stalled Assembly proceedings charging the Home Minister with misleading the house saying that POTA has not been applied. They said that there is no difference between Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat governments. Anees got through the Lie Detector Test and other such tests revealed nothing. Then why is he still in police custody, the MLAs asked, adding that after securing votes of the minorities, the Congress government is continuing with anti-Muslim policies. They said that the AIMIM was demanding justice as the police was subjecting the Muslim minority to repression. 

In his reply, Mr. Reddy said that permission for application of POTA was not granted. He assured the members that he would try to secure the release of the youth from police custody."

Akbaruddin Owaisi,AIMIM floor leader, had a meeting with the Home Minister and police officials on 29 June where a heated argument took place between the police officials and Mr. Owaisi. The Home Minister gave an assurance to him that an enquiry would be conducted about the case. Owaisi said that Counter Intelligence wing is implicating Anees falsely in Sai Baba Bomb Blast case to hide its own wrong-doings. He demanded the dismissal of the Counter Intelligence wing.

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