Acquitted after 20 years, ‘terror’ charges spoiled lives of 127 Muslims

Surat: A court in Surat, Gujarat on Saturday acquitted 127 persons who were arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for organizing a meeting to “promote and expand” activities of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in December 2001.

Although the court has removed charges against the accused persons, they faced a lot of difficulties during the past 19 years.

They used to travel hundreds of kilometers to either appear before the police station or the judicial magistrate. Many of them could not get a job for years.

Out of 127 persons, five passed away during the trial.

Mohammed Abdul Hai

One among the 127 persons is Mohammed Abdul Hai, then an assistant professor of Jai Narain Vyas University, Jodhpur.

In order to attend a three-day seminar on Muslim Education organized by the All India Minority Education Board, he had boarded a train from Jodhpur to Surat on the night of December 26, 2001.

The next day, he reached Rajeshree Hall, Surat where the seminar was scheduled to take place. However, at 11 p.m., police reached the spot and arrested attendees of the seminar including Hai.

Although he got bail after spending 14 months in jail, his ordeal did not end there. He used to travel more than 700 km to appear before Surat police.

After three months of getting bail, he got his job back. However, the university denied any promotion due to the pending case.

Asif Iqbal

Another person who was also charged under the same act, Asif Iqbal, 53, then a primary healthcare worker also faced difficulties.

He spent four months in jail and lost his job due to the case pending against him.

Asif Sheikh

Asif Sheikh who was a student of mass communication and journalism at Gujarat University is another person who was arrested.

Due to the pending cases, no one gave him job. He is selling spices now.

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