| Members of Assam Public Works stage a demonstration in protest against influx in Guwahati on Friday. Picture by Eastern Projections |
Guwahati, Aug. 8: Dispur today moved Gauhati High Court challenging the June 13 order of the district and sessions court acquitting 10 persons, accused by state police of being ISI agents, for want of evidence to prosecute them.
Though government officials and their legal team were tightlipped about the grounds on which the order of the lower court was challenged, sources said Dispur’s contention was “quite lengthy” and that it might come up for hearing next week. A CMO official said all formalities for filing the appeal were complete.
He said the appeal had nothing to do with ongoing uproar over influx or the ISI and that the government had told its legal team to prepare an appeal the very next day of the acquittal by the court of the district and sessions judge, Kamrup (metropolitan), here on June 13.
The acquitted, including a Pakistani and a Bangladeshi national, were arrested in 1999 for being operatives of the ISI and other foreign subversive groups.
Sources said the appeal had taken time because the legal team wanted to be doubly sure that the grounds would stand the test of scrutiny in court. “The lower court ruling was studied in detail before the appeal was framed,” a source said.
In August 1999, city police arrested Pakistani national M. Fasiullah and Bangladeshis Bilal Mian, Javed Wakar, Kari Salim and Maulana Akram on charges of being ISI agents. Haji Bilaluddin and Manikut Chodhury, Jakir Hussain of Goalpara and Kaifatullah, from the city, and Jehirul Hussain of Howly in Barpeta district were also arrested that year on similar charges. The court had sentenced Fasiullah and Mian to five years’ imprisonment under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act for entering India without valid documents. But they were released as they had already spent nine years in jail.
The release made the influential AASU allege that the suspected ISI agents, arrested during the tenure of the AGP, were freed because the Congress-led government was not serious about tackling the threat from ISI and jihadis who were entering the state from across Bangladesh. Its top brass went to the extent of saying that Bangladeshi infiltrators and ISI agents enjoyed the blessings of the government which was “indifferent” to the threat from the ISI, fundamentalist forces and influx.
In a statement in the Assembly on ISI activities in Assam on April 6, 2000, former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said the police had gathered enough evidence to prove that the ISI has been actively involved in fomenting violence and terrorism in the state.
Sources said the government move would now remove any doubt people might have about the government’s sincerity to tackle the threat posed by the fundamentalists backed by the ISI. Intelligence sources today said jihadis backed by the ISI, among others, were the biggest threat to the state. “They are a bigger threat than even Ulfa,” one of them said.
Intelligence sources said a few Muslim militant outfits were active in the state with the ISI making inroads. These included the Muslim United Liberation Front of Assam, United Muslim Liberation Front of Assam, People’s United Liberation Front, Muslim Volunteer Force, Adam Sena, Islamic Sevak Sangha, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Harkat-ul-Jehad.