MUMBAI: A person cannot be branded as a terrorist merely for using the word "jihad", a Maharashtra court observed while acquitting three accused of terror charges.
The Akola-based court of special judge A S Jadhav made the observation while hearing a case against the three persons accused under the stringent the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), the Arms Act and the Bombay Police Act.
Abdul Razzaque (24), Shoeb Khan (24) and Salim Malik (26) were booked under various Indian Penal Code sections, including 307 (attempt to murder) and 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), following an attack on policemen outside a mosque in Pusad area of Akola on September 25, 2015, on the occasion of Eid uz Zoha, over beef ban in the state.
According to the prosecution, Razzaque arrived at the mosque, took out a knife and stabbed two policemen on duty and said before the attack that because of the beef ban, he would kill the cops.
The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) claimed they accused were part of a conspiracy to influence Muslim youths to join terrorist organisations.
Jadhav observed, "It appears that accused Razzaque exhibited his anger by violence against the government and some Hindu organisations for ban on cow slaughter".
"No doubt he used the word 'jihad'. But, it was adventurous to jump to the conclusion that only for using the word 'jihad' he should be branded as a terrorist," he said.
According to dictionary, the word 'jihad' literally means "struggle", he pointed out.
"Jihad is an Arabic word which literally means striving or struggling. Therefore merely the use of word 'jihad' by the accused would not be proper to brand him as a terrorist," the judge said.
Razzaque was convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment for voluntarily causing hurt to policemen.
As he was in jail since September 25, 2015 and already spent three years in prison, he was released following the court order.
The court relied on testimonies of the injured policemen and other security personnel on duty.