KOCHI: In a major setback to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the special court in Kochi on Monday found that the seven persons, arrested for holding a meeting to allegedly plot terror attacks at Kanakamala in Kannur, were not members of terror group Islamic State (IS). NIA Court Judge P Krishna Kumar, however, found six accused persons guilty of being members of a terrorist outfit, among other charges.
It also acquitted one person in the case. The court will sentence the convicts on Wednesday. “The prosecution failed to prove that the accused were Islamic State members. It could not provide evidence to prove charges under IPC Sections 121 and 122 – that they waged a war against the country and collected arms and ammunition for the purpose,” the court said.
‘ACCUSED PLEAD FOR MAXIMUM LENIENCY'
“The court can categorically say the accused were not IS members. They are qualified to be called members of a terrorist gang,” the judge said in paragraph 270 of the verdict. In the hearing for awarding the sentence, the convicted persons submitted that their immaturity in using social media landed them in the case. They pleaded for maximum leniency as their families relied on them for meeting daily expenses.
However, NIA prosecutor Arjun Ambalapatta sought maximum punishment of life imprisonment under UAPA Sections 17, 18 and 18(b) for the accused and also requested the court to order the forfeiture of their movable and immovable property under UAPA Section 33(2).
“A message that people who are part of terrorist groups and plot terrorist activities here get only a minimum sentence should not be sent,” Ambalapatta submitted. Acting on a tip-off from the NIA headquarters, the agency had raided Kanakamala on October 2, 2016, and arrested five persons who had assembled there. The accused persons had formed groups on the mobile application Telegram in which they discussed IS ideology and plotted attacks on Jews, RSS leaders, BJP leaders, judges and police officers. They were alleged to be members of an IS-associated group ‘Ansarul Khilafah- Kerala’ which planned terror strikes in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Manseed, Swalih and Rashid Ali were found guilty under IPC Section 120B (conspiracy), UAPA Section 17 (raising fund for terrorist act), 18 (conspiracy), 18(b) (recruiting any person for terrorist act), 38 (membership of a terrorist organisation), 39 (support given to terrorist organisation) and 40 (raising fund for a terrorist organisation). Ramshad N K was found guilty under IPC Section 120B and UAPA Section 38 and 39. Safvan was convicted under IPC Section 120B and UAPA Sections 18, 18(b), 38 and 39. Moinudheen was convicted under IPC Section 120(B) and UAPA Sections 38, 39 and 40.