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Terror Funding case: Delhi HC issues notice to NIA on Naeem Khan's bail plea

New Delhi: Delhi High Court issued a notice to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on a bail plea moved by Naeem Khan, a Kashmiri separatist leader on Thursday in a case related to the terrorist and secessionist activities in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh on Thursday sought a response from NIA on Naeem Khan's plea challenging the denial of bail to him by the Trial Court. The bench listed the matter for March 23 for further hearing. The bail plea of Naeem Khan has been moved through Advocates Tara Narula, Tamanna Pankaj and S Debabrata Reddy.
On December 22, the Trial Court refused to grant bail to Naeem Khan, "Since the nature of the allegations and evidence collected during the investigation require leading of evidence to prove different facts, which would take a substantial amount of time. In such a situation likelihood of delay in the trial, to my mind cannot be entertained by this court once the question of bail is governed by a specific mandate under sections 43-D(S) of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)."
Trial Court further stated, "Right from the day when different charge sheets were filed in this case till date, there has been no delay in the trial. Rather a process or enquiry under section 207 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the question of consideration of plea of guilt of other accused as well as deciding question of charge, have been expeditiously decided by Predecessor of this court only with the view to ensure fair and expeditious trial to other co-accused."
"Having so concluded this court however would like to mention here that earnest efforts would be made for expeditious trial of the matter so that there should not be unnecessary delay in completing the trial and this court is very much conscious of the period of incarceration of different accused persons including the applicant," said the Trial Court.
During the hearing, the court noted that, in the case, it was alleged that various terrorist organizations such as Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Hizb-ul-Mujahiddin (HM), Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) with the support of ISI of Pakistan perpetrated violence in the valley by attacking civilians as well as the security forces.
Senior Counsel Siddharth Luthra appearing for NIA submitted that since charges in this case have already been framed, the court has already concluded regarding the sufficiency of the evidence against the accused for framing of charge under different offences of UAPA and IPC.
Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra also contended that such exercise of evaluating the evidence in detail scrutiny having been done now at a stage of bail as per the requirement of Section 43-D(S) of UAPA only authenticity of accusation against the accused is to be seen which is far lighter than consideration at the stage of charge. Therefore accused is not entitled to bail on account of the bar of Section 43-D(S) of the UAPA.
The bail petition stated that the accused had been incarcerated for six years suffering from various health issues like hyperuricemia and rheumatoid arthritis. Bail's plea further stated that prosecution evidence is yet to start and there are around 400 prosecution witnesses and documents running into thousand pages, which the prosecution is seeking to prove. As such a trial is likely to take a very long period of time.
Earlier, the court framed the charges against other Kashmiri separatist leaders who are accused in the case after Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bitta Karate, Shabbir Shah, Masarat Alam, Md Yusuf Shah, Aftab Ahmad Shah, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Nayeem Khan, Md Akbar Khanday, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali, Shabir Ahmad Shah, Abdul Rashid Sheikh and Naval Kishore Kapoor formally signed the court order copy and said that they are ready to face trial in the case.
NIA Judge earlier said, "The analysis reflects that the statements of witnesses and documentary evidence have connected almost all the accused with each other and to a common object of secession, to the commonality of means they were to use, their close association to terrorist or terrorist organizations under the guiding hand and funding of Pakistani establishment."
In March last year, the NIA court had ordered the framing of charges against Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, Kashmiri separatist leaders including Yasin Malik, Shabbir Shah, Masarat Alam and others under various sections of UAPA in a case pertaining to the terrorist and secessionist activities that disturbed the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The court had also ordered the framing of charges against Kashmiri politician and former MLA Rashid Engineer, Businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali, Bitta Karate, Aftab Ahmad Shah, Avatar Ahmad Shah, Naeem Khan, Bashir Ahmed Bhat, alias Peer Saifullah and several others under various sections of IPC and UAPA including criminal conspiracy, waging war against the country, unlawful activities, etc.
The NIA earlier stated before the court that this has been done for funding separatist and terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir and as such, they have entered into a larger conspiracy for causing disruption in the valley by way of pelting stones on the security forces, systematically burning schools, causing damage to public property and waging war against India. On this information, the Ministry of Home Affairs directed the NIA to register a case.
Accordingly, the present case was registered by NIA for offences under sections 120B, 121, 121A of IPC and sections 13, 16, 17, 18, 20, 38, 39 and 40 of UAPA. The NIA further added that during the investigation it was also revealed that All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and other secessionists instigate the general public, especially the youth, to observe strikes and to resort to violence especially stone pelting the security forces. This was done to create disaffection amongst the people of Jammu and Kashmir towards the government of India.
It also submitted that the investigation has revealed that the secessionists were mobilizing funds from all possible sources to fuel unrest and support the ongoing secessionist and terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir. The secessionists were getting funds from Pakistan, Pakistan-based terrorist organizations and local donations. (ANI)

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