Pro-Taliban online posts: 13 people arrested under UAPA granted bail
Thirteen people out of the 15 arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in Assam over pro-Taliban posts on social media have been granted bail by local courts. While granting bail to the accused, the local courts noted the lack of incriminating evidence to keep them in jail. The accused were arrested in August for allegedly supporting the Taliban.
Gauhati High Court judge Hitesh Kumar Sarma granted bail to seven accused at the initial stage of the hearing, saying the court did not find anything that required further "custodial detention," The Indian Express reported. The seven included Jawed Husain Mazumder (30), Faruk Husain Khan (32), Mozidul Islam (25), Arman Hussain (25), Nadim Akhtar Laskar (23), retired maulana Basiruddin Laskar (65), and Maqbool Alam.
TIE quoted a Gauhati HC advocate familiar with the case as saying that the posts were "unintentional" and did not call for "stringent action like the UAPA." He said, "The court understood that, and hence, several got bail."
While granting bail to another accused, Maulana Fazlul Karim Qasimi (49), the Gauhati HC noted there is "nothing incriminating" against him except the Facebook post and thus his detention is "uncalled for." Even if Qasimi authored the post, "in the absence of other incriminating materials, it is doubtful as to whether the contents thereof alone would constitute a cognizable offense," the court had noted.
Saidul Hoque, a constable with Assam Police Battalion, was booked by the Assam Police for posting an "incriminating" message: "Congratulations Taliban." The Kamrup Sessions Court granted him bail on September 22. While granting bail, the court said available material was "prima facie insufficient to connect till date the accused supports or invites to support terrorist organization to attract offense u/s 39 of UA(P) Act."
The bail pleas of the remaining two were reportedly rejected by the Dhubri Sessions Court. The two accused include Khandakar Nur Alom (57) and Saiyad Ahmed, a rickshaw puller. Ahmed's lawyer said the next hearing was on October 22, and they are "hopeful."
The Assam Police had arrested 16 people in August for allegedly putting up social media posts "supporting" the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. The arrests were made from 10 districts in both Brahmaputra and Barak Valley. Barring one, all had been booked under the stringent UAPA. At the time, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma had directed the police to "act without fear and favor."
When TIE asked Assam Special DGP (Law and Order), GP Singh, about the bails, Singh downplayed it by saying, "Bail is the prerogative of the judiciary." It was Singh who had announced the first 14 arrests on August 21.