A special court for trial of National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Kochi has made some interesting observations while granting bail to Allan Shuhaib and Thwaha Fazal, the two Kerala students arrested in November 2019 for alleged Maoist links.
The Kerala Police’s arrest of the duo and subsequent slapping of the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on them had led to a major controversy for the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government. The case was transferred to the NIA in December 2019.
“Though the prosecution was able to establish that the accused had associated with and supported CPI(Maoist) organisation, it’s doubtful whether the prosecution has made out a prima facie case regarding their affiliation and support to the banned organisation with the intent to encourage, promote or facilitate the commission of terrorist organizations,’’ said judge Anil K. Bhaskar in the 64-page bail order, a copy of which is with HuffPost India.
The order said that there were many missing links in establishing that the accused were cadre of CPI(Maoist) and that their activities were controlled by the banned organisation, as contended by the NIA.
CPI(Maoist), formed in 2004, was designated as a terrorist organisation and banned by the central government in 2009. The material seized from the students cited as Maoist literature included journalist Rahul Pandita’s book Hello, Bastar and a ruled notepaper with some writing supporting the “freedom struggle” of Jammu & Kashmir.
The accused had only a “leaning towards this banned organisation and no violent act was on their part”, the court observed. The observations by the court, which may affect the final judgment in the case, will be a blow to the Vijayan-led government, which had invoked UAPA against the CPI(M)’s proclaimed stand against the law. A day after the judgment, even CPI(M) politburo member M.A. Baby openly criticised the UAPA.
Oppression faced by weaker sections of the society may be influencing and tempting a number of persons towards Maoist philosophy, observed the judge, even as he warned the accused that the “chance offered by the court for the reformation shall not be mistaken as an opportunity to fasten their bond with the banned terrorist organisation and to be part of it”.
The court has issued stringent conditions for the students’ release, including submission of their passports and reporting regularly to the police station and warned against any association with CPI(Maoist).
While referring to the notices distributed allegedly by Usman, the absconding co-accused, the court said that there was nothing in them to instigate terror or to entice violence to achieve the objective. Referring to the shouting of slogans by Thwaha in support of Maoism, the court said it shows his inclination towards Maoist ideology and it cannot be construed as an indication that he stepped into the path of violence.