Court Punctures NIA Balloon, Kamran Released

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Srinagar—Freelance journalist from south Kashmir’s Pulwama district Kamran Yousuf, arrested 190 days ago by NIA, was on Wednesday released on bail granted to him by a court in New Delhi which dismissed claims by India’s premier anti-terror organisation that the scribe was involved in “stone-pelting” and “subversive activities”.

Additional Sessions Judge Tarun Sherawat said that NIA has not placed on record a “single photo/video” to show Kamran was “indulging in stone pelting activities at any site”.

The court also said the NIA could not produce any direct link between Kamran and others chargesheeted in the case. Kamran, 22, has been in Tihar Jail after his arrest by the NIA on September 5 from his hometown in southern Kashmir’s Pulwama on charges of “stone throwing”.

The court took into account the bail of a journalist in Karnataka, who was reporting an incident, and said that it was “apparent” that mere “presence” of the accused at the site of incident is “not sufficient to implicate” the accused.

Kamran and 11 others were chargesheeted and booked under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

“Admittedly Kamran Yusuf was working as a photojournalist and he was covering all kinds of incidents…as such, his presence on sites of stone pelting incidents etc is intrinsic, notwithstanding the fact/contention (that) he was not a permanent employee of any media organisation,” the court observed

On criminal conspiracy, the court said that during the course of arguments on inquiry, the investigation officer could not show any direct linkage/chat conversation of Kamran with other accused.

“Counsel for the accused submitted that Kamran was allegedly in touch with IPS officer, journalists, but none of them in the co-accused in the case. On the other hand, the prosecution did not furnish details of these other suspects despite several opportunities granted for argument.”

“TIP (Test Identification Parade) of the accused should have been conducted, as per procedure, for identification of the accused.”

The court found that Kamran has never been in touch with the other accused in this case including Hurriyat leaders and a businessman. “Even if, as per the prosecution case, he was in touch/contact with other suspects, it is not explained why the prosecution did not make them accused in this case, or why they did not investigate on their involvement.”

The court added: “It is surprising to note that the IO (of NIA) is not able to provide details of these persons till date.

“…prima facie, I may note that the prosecution has not leveled any specific allegations against Kamran that he has been a member of any particular banned organisation, as the first schedule annexed to UAPA. Even otherwise, mere membership of a banned organisation will not make a person criminally liable unless he resorts to violence or incites people to violence.”

The court said that Kamran has not found involved in any such offences, terrorist activities in the past. “No such material, explosive or otherwise, has been recovered from or at the instance of the accused. Besides there is no such allegation that the accused was arrested soon after the occurrence…”

Arguing on behalf of NIA, special public prosecutor Sidharth Luthra had submitted: “Investigations revealed his (Yusuf’s) links with overground workers of terrorist organisations; Electronic evidence such as CDRs (call detail record) show involvement and presence of the accused in offences alleged at various places… Statements of three witnesses clearly showed Yusuf’s involvement in stone-pelting. Kamran Yusuf was chargesheeted for criminal conspiracy on the basis that he had close nexus with the terrorist organisations, which is reflected from his chat conversations with other accused.

As per Section 43D(5) of UAPA, if the court was of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accusations against the accused is prima facie true for the commission of the offences, then Kamran shall not be granted bail at this stage–and only prima facie view was to be taken by the court.

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