A court in Gujarat’s Surat on Saturday acquitted 122 persons arrested under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for participating in a meeting organised here in December 2001 as members of the banned outfit Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate A N Dave acquitted 122 persons arrested for being members of the banned outfit SIMI, giving them the benefit of doubt.
Five other accused had died during the pendency of trial. In its order, the court said that 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 the activities of the banned outfit.
The court said the accused persons cannot be held guilty under the UAPA. As many as 127 persons were arrested by Surat’s Athwalines police on December 28, 2001 under various sections of the UAPA for allegedly being members of the banned outfit SIMI and organising a meeting at a hall in city’s Sagrampura to promote and expand the organisation’s activities.
The central government had through its notification dated September 27, 2001 banned SIMI. The accused belonged to different parts of Gujarat as well as from Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
In their defence, they said they did not belong to the SIMI and had gathered there to participate in a seminar organised under the banner of All India Minority Education Board. They said they were in the city for religious and educational purposes to take part in a seminar in a peaceful manner.