The Special Task Force of Uttar Pradesh Police filed a charge sheet on Saturday (April 3, 2021) against eight people that are linked to the People Front of India, including its students' wing leader K A Rauf Sherif and Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan. Charges of criminal conspiracy, sedition and funding of terror activities along with other offences have been pressed against them.
Five of the accused, namely, Campus Front of India's (CFI) national general secretary Sherif, CFI national treasurer Atikur Rahman, Delhi CFI general secretary Masud Ahmed, Kappan and Mohammed Alam, who is a member of the CFI and the PFI, were present in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Anil Kumar Pandey.
Shiv Ram Singh, the Counsel representing the Central Government said, “Two other accused-- Anshad Badruddin and Firoz Khan -- attended the hearing through video conferencing. The STF has also filed a charge sheet against accused Danish.”
The Defence was represented by Madhuban Dutt who said that they were considering moving to the High Court after the 5000-page long charge sheet has been filed against the eight accused.
As per the Defence Counsel, the accused have been booked under Indian Penal Code sections of 153 (A) (Promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language), 124(A) (sedition), 295 (A) (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings...) and 120(B) (criminal conspiracy).
Additionally, charges of sections 17 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA), that pertain to raising funds for acts of terror have been pressed on the Accused alongside relevant provisions of the IT Act, 2000. The next hearing has been scheduled for May 1, 2021. Background:
Kappan, Alam, Rahman and Masud Ahmed were arrested in October last year while they were on their way to Hathras, wherein a 19 year old Dalit woman had allegedly been gangraped and murdered. In the FIR it was claimed they were on their way to Hathras with an intention "to breach the peace" as part of a "conspiracy".
The first charge sheet was filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the PFI members on charges of money laundering in February. In the said charge sheet, it was claimed that they had an intention to "incite communal riots and spread terror" in the aftermath of the Hathras gang rape case. The District Counsel stated hat Anshad Badruddin and Firoz Khan have been in the Lucknow Jail after they had been arrested for allegedly plotting to execute blasts in Lucknow and elsewhere in UP. On the contrary, the main contention of the Defence counsel was that his clients have been falsely implicated in the said case.
Further, he also said that the Accused had been denied food for 24 hours after being lodged in the Mathura Jail. He claimed, “They were not served any food after 5.00 PM on Friday till 4.30 PM of Saturday while they were in the court," while adding that Kappan is diabetic and Rahman is a heart patient.
While being taken out of the court, some of the accused shouted how the charges against them are completely false. The UP government has also been demanding a ban on PFI on the allegations that it indulges in fuelling violence and extremism.