150 acquittals: How effective has the SIMI ban been?

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New Delhi, Sept 29: It has been 14 years since the ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India was imposed. While the government continues to argue that the ban needs to continue, the fact remains that 150 members of SIMI have been acquitted in various cases.

Read more: On the run since October 2013 - Where are these SIMI men?

While one section argues that it is very difficult to gather circumstantial evidence in terror related cases, there is another that states that these acquittals are a result of a witch hunt by the police. Whatever the argument may be, the growing number of acquittals is doing more harm than good to society.

How effective has the SIMI ban been?

The anger is building:
Members of the Muslims community have very often express that it is these false cases that has irked them no end.

No one will object if the cases are genuine and the community will be more than happy to weed out the anti social elements if they are acting counter-productive to both the society and the community, the Muslims leaders say.

For the police officials the going has been anything but easy. Many a time they are left defending an already lost case in the court. Take for instance the arrests that were made in Hyderabad over the years. The police were quick to accuse the arrested persons of either being linked to the ISI or planning a series of blasts across the country.

In one of the cases lodged in Hyderabad the charges were so weak that the court had termed it as laughable evidence. The police had said that the accused persons were sitting outside a graveyard and reading Jihadi material in a bid to launch a series of attacks.

The police were unable to comprehensively argue what exactly the jihadi material was. In some cases the police even went on to term the Quran as Jihadi material and ended up being pulled up in court.

Another recent case in which two persons were granted bail also needs to be discussed. Two persons from Maharashtra had visited Hyderabad and considered to be former members of the SIMI.

The police picked up Muddasir Talha and Shoaib Ahmed Khan and in the charges stated that they were planning on launching an ISIS module and were also planning on joining the outfit. The court granted bail to both these persons.

Not all cases deserve an acquittal:
One of the police officers in Uttar Pradesh says that not all cases mandated an acquittal. Sometimes it is extremely difficult to get evidence in such cases. What does one do in the case of a person who has a mindset that leans towards acts of terror? It is impossible for the police to prove such charges in court, the officer also argues.

However the other side of the problem with such cases are forced confessions in custody. Some of the persons that OneIndia spoke with say that the police build up the case in the lock up. They want us to say what they want to hear. Under duress or the threat of being beaten up in custody, we tend to confess what the police are asking us to.

In such cases, there is a forced confession which helps the police deny the accused persons bail for sometime. However when the matter is being argued in the trial stage, the accuse always deny the confession stating that it was made under duress. Further the police is never able to bring together any concrete evidence before the court and the case ends up in acquittal.

The mindset needs to change:
Some officers say that these blind sided investigations never help. The police need to arrest a person only if they are completely satisfied. They need to mark the persons who are they find suspicions, trail them and only then arrest them, the officer also notes.

Further the police also need to make sure that forced confessions are not part of their bag of tricks. In all cases of forced confessions, the case becomes weak and ends up in acquittal the officer also adds.

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