SIMI ban lift shocks police, intelligence officials

August 6th, 2008 - 12:55 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 5 (IANS) The lifting of the ban on the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) Tuesday has come as a body blow to the intelligence and security agencies that are probing its hand in a series of terror blasts in Jaipur, Bangalore and Ahmedabad that have killed hundreds of people. “We have not seen the judgement yet but it is a complete shock to us. I can’t believe this can happen. The decision has really came at the wrong time when we are in hot pursuit of SIMI members in the country,” a top Intelligence Bureau (IB) official told IANS.

“Investigations suggest the hand of SIMI activists in recent terror bombings in the country. The decision will send a wrong message down the line,” the official added.

Another IB official said: “We have not been informed about the judgement. But it is a big setback for the security agencies which are battling terrorism.”

A top Delhi Police official, requesting anonymity, told IANS: “We have provided adequate information to the tribunal (that lifted the ban) and the decision is very surprising. It will badly affect us in the long run in the fight against terrorism.”

“We fear that SIMI activists would raise their head again, and this time it would be an open peril for everyone,” warned the official.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they are not authorised to officially comment on any court judgement.

A special tribunal headed by Justice Geeta Mittal Tuesday lifted the ban on SIMI, citing lack of any fresh evidence against the organization. Mishra is a sitting Delhi High Court judge.

SIMI had challenged the two-year ban re-imposed on it by the central government Feb 7, 2008.

The tribunal was specially constituted to decide whether or not there was sufficient cause for declaring SIMI an unlawful association.

SIMI was first banned in 2001 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the ban has been renewed thrice since then. 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.

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. It witnessed 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 SIMI saying they do not subscribe to its ideology.

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