The UAPA Tribunal, a few days back upheld the ban imposed in 2001 by the then Home Minister in the NDA government, L.K.Advani, on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for another five years.
SIMI was accused of links with Pakistan based terrorist organizations including the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and its front, Indian Mujahideen. The Home Ministry had said that the outfit would be re-formed if the ban was lifted. Delhi High Court Justice, Suresh Kait, who heads the tribunal, said that there were valid reasons to extend the ban imposed by the government. He also suggested mooting a separate tribunal to ensure that only criminals were punished. Innocent people who have no connections with the outfit and those with no criminal records were sent notices accusing them of links with the banned group. The tribunal also added that senior police officers presented the evidences most of the time instead of those who investigated the case. SIMI was founded in April 1977 in Aligarh after the withdrawal of the much intensive state of emergency declared by the Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. Even though it soon grew into an organization with thousands of student followers, it later endorsed extremist concepts and actions which forced the responsible Muslim associations and other organizations to condemn it. However, SIMI has not yet proved to be an organization with extreme terror links and jihadi character so much that it should be attracting a ban where as there are several Hindu extremist groups like Bajrang dal in the country, which unleash inflammatory and provocative comments and speeches . But no action has been taken against them.
The ban was imposed for two years. In August 2008, Delhi High Court Justice, Geeta Mittal, who headed the tribunal lifted the ban saying that the government had failed to present valid evidences against the group. The very next day the government procured a stay against her verdict from the Supreme Court. The end of the ban is always characterized by explosions anywhere in the country with the blames later put on the shoulders of SIMI and Indian Mujahideen. According to the new amendments in the UAPA tribunal acts, the ban imposed on such groups are, for the first time, extended to five years. Justice Kait’s proposal to form a special tribunal to ensure justice to the innocent victims, who are crucified in the name of SIMI, is indeed welcoming. Former SIMI members were blamed for the incidents like Malegaon, Samjhota Express, Makkah Masjid and Ajmer explosions, conspired and implemented by the ultra right wing Hindu extremist organizations like Sanatan Sanstha and Abhinav Bharat. Instead of targeting people of a particular religion alone, the police and the investigative agencies should carry out the probe upholding the values like truthfulness, honesty and sincerity. It’s absolutely necessary to be vigilant against such treachery; but it’s high time they stop being driven by faulty preconceptions and communal hatred.