IS-linked Kashmiri couple who incited CAA protests seeks bail

 
IS-linked Kashmiri couple who incited CAA protests seeks bailBy Aakanksha Khajuria

New Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS) A couple belonging to Jammu and Kashmir with links to the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP), who was arrested for allegedly instigating protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in 2020, has approached a Delhi Court seeking bail in the case, emphasizing that there is no evidence to substantiate their role.

Jahanzaib Sami and Hina Bashir Beigh were arrested on March 8 for allegedly conspiring to utilize the anti-CAA protests to instigate Muslims against the government by coining seditious slogans, inscribing graffiti at public places and highlighting the same on social and international media.

In case these protests failed to provoke the Muslims, they were planning for arsoning of government buildings and public property so that riots could happen and they could exploit the sentiments of Muslims, the probe agency had said.

Almost a year after their arrest, they have moved a bail application which stated, "That there is no material to substantiate the claim that the accused was a member of ISIS or was inciting and recruiting like-minded people or was in contact with ISIS operatives."

That posting material on social media could be taken as an inclination towards the ideology but it cannot be an indication that the accused had stepped towards the path of violence to achieve the objectives of the organization, the bail plea moved through Advocate Qausar Khan and M.M. Khan, added.

"Possession of any literature or reading material on ISIS and watching videos does not prove anything adverse against the accused. It becomes adverse only when there is any positive act from the side of the accused to instigate violence."

Prima facie, there is nothing to suggest that any overt act on the side of the accused, the application stated, adding that the books and videos are also available in public domain and can be easily accessed by anyone.

Communal clashes had broken out in north-east Delhi on February 24, 2020 after violence between the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) is a banned terrorist organization and part of ISIS. Khorasan refers to the Islamic State's Central Asian province. It seeks to establish like ISIS across the world governed by Sharia Law.

In September, the National Investigation Agency had filed a charge sheet against five accused, including a Kashmiri couple, in the Islamic State Khorasan Province case, for provoking youths to protest effectively against the CAA.

In the charge sheet, the NIA has named Jahanzaib Sami Wani and his wife Hina Bashir Beigh, both residents of Jammu and Kashmir, Abdullah Basith of Hyderabad, Sadiya Anwar Shaikh, and Nabeel Siddick Khatri, both residents of Pune.

It was revealed during investigation that Jahanzaib Sami, Hina Bashir Beigh, Abdullah Basith, Sadiya Anwar Shaikh, and Nabeel Siddick Khatri entered into a criminal conspiracy with known and unknown associates in India and abroad to propagate the ideology of ISIS and ISKP.

They also purportedly wanted to establish Caliphate by committing terrorist acts, such as, recruit radicalized youth, planning and executing terrorist acts, procuring arms and explosives, make IEDs, etc. and threaten the unity, integrity and security of India.

They were allegedly conspiring to use the anti-CAA protests to instigate Muslims in India against Non-Muslims to join ISIS and propagate their ideology and were also involved in raising, collecting, transferring and distributing funds for the same.

Abdullah Basith is already lodged in Delhi's Tihar jail in connection with another IS Abu Dhabi module case of the NIA. The NIA said they were allegedly provoking some gullible youth to participate in anti-CAA protests actively.

"During the probe it was found that Jahanzaib, Beigh, Basith and Siddick tried to make an improvised IED and were planning to carry out mass killings in crowded places to further the activities of ISIS/ISKP in India."

The five accused have been charged under several sections of the Indian Penal Code, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for their affiliation with the proscribed terrorist organization ISIS/ISKP and for conspiring to create disaffection against the government, promoting enmity among different religious communities and for committing subversive activities.

The official said that during investigation it was revealed that Wani, a B.Tech from Punjab's Ferozepur, got radicalised and inclined towards ISIS by reading about it on the internet. He established contact with ISIS handler Huzaifa-al-Bakistani and latter's father-in-law Abu Usman-al-Kashmiri (Head of Indian affairs of ISKP) in 2017 on a secure messaging platform.

Beigh, who had done her higher education from Pune, also got radicalized since 2014-15 by reading ISIS-related content on social media. Wani and Beigh married in 2017 as both supported the ideology of ISIS, the official had said.

(Aakanksha Khajuria can be contacted at aakanksha.k@ians.in)

--IANS

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