Seven years after ban, SIMI is still active

March 28th, 2008 - 2:58 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 28 (IANS) The arrest of 10 top activists of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), including its runaway chief Safdar Nagori, has again put the spotlight on the outlawed group. The radical outfit, banned in 2001 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, comprises young students committed to establishing a ‘Dar-ul-Islam’ or Land of Islam.

The government says that SIMI is still active in the country and continues to receive clandestine support from foreign countries.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Sriprakash Jaiswal said in parliament that SIMI got “support from across the border” and had “cross-border links” - both of which are official euphemisms for Pakistan.

SIMI has had a long run-in with the authorities in India.

Before the ban, 33 cases were registered against its activists in various parts of India for spreading religious discord. Later, 49 more cases were slapped.

According to intelligence sources, SIMI has close links with the Pakistan-based Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and also with Bangladesh’s Harkat-ul-Jehadi-Islami.

When it was outlawed, SIMI had 400 full-time cadres and 20,000 members.

It claims a national presence with strong bases in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Assam.

Last month, the home ministry decided to enforce the ban on SIMI for two more years on grounds that the group continued to “indulge in unlawful activities”.

It was in 2001 that a First Information Report (FIR) was lodged in the New Friends Colony police station in south Delhi. Since then, SIMI general secretary Safdar Nagori has been on the run.

Nagori, arrested Thursday near Indore in Madhya Pradesh, was allegedly in touch with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and other Islamic groups so as to revive SIMI activities under a different umbrella.

“It (SIMI) was a prime suspect behind the serial blasts in (Maharashtra’s) Malegaon town in September 2007 in which 40 people were killed,” an intelligence official said.

The Maharashtra Police stated then that nine SIMI cadres had hatched and executed the conspiracy with the help of two Pakistanis to “infuriate the entire Muslim community and trigger communal riots”.

The main accused in the 2005 serial blasts in Delhi were also suspected to have links with SIMI.

SIMI was founded in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, in 1977 by Mohammad Ahmadullah Siddiqi as an offshoot to the Jamaat-e-Islami.

The organisation advocates the “liberation of India” and restoring Islamic rule, according to its declared objective.

It saw slow growth even in Muslim dominated areas until December 1992 when the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya sparked one of the worst Hindu-Muslim violence in the country since independence in 1947.

Many young Muslims have, however, quit the SIMI saying they do not subscribe to its ideology.

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