A Delhi court has discharged photojournalist Kamran Yousuf, separatist leader Asiya Andrabi and vendor Javed Ahmad Bhat in a 2017 terror funding case, reported The Indian Express on Monday.
In a March 16 order, the court said that there was not enough evidence to show that they were part of a conspiracy to propagate a secessionist agenda.
In the case, the National Investigation Agency had alleged that the accused persons were orchestrating violence in Jammu and Kashmir as a part of their “well-planned” criminal conspiracy, backed and funded by groups operating from Pakistan.
The other 14 accused persons in the case include Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed, Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, Hurriyat leader Syed Shah Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Ahmed Shah, National Front chief Nayeem Ahmad Khan and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik.
In charges against Yousuf and Bhat, the central agency had alleged that both of them were involved in several stone-pelting incidents and had links with over ground workers of some terror outfits, reported The Indian Express.
The officials relied on documents, including a report by the Anantnag Police identifying Yousuf as a member of a WhatsApp group called “Pulwama Rebels” and another stating that he had posted pictures of militants with the caption “freedom coming soon”. For Yousuf, a document had claimed that he was an over ground worker for the Hizbul Mujahideen.
In its order, special judge Parveen Singh of the National Investigation Agency court said that the allegations were unsubstantiated opinions. The judge also said that it seems like two witness statements against Yousuf and Bhat were given in a “routine manner” and both were similar.
“Therefore, the evidence pressed against the accused 11, 12 [Yousuf and Bhat] is on a very weak footing and can only raise a slight suspicion, not grave suspicion about the involvement of the accused in these incidents,” the court said, according to the newspaper.
Both Yousuf and Bhat are out on bail since 2018.
The court ordered framing charges against the remaining 14 accused persons in the case under provisions of the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The court noted that money had been given to families of those killed or injured by the accused persons. The judge, however, observed that there is a “sinister plot” behind the help.
“Create unrest, unleash violence and aid the victims by Pakistani funds which shall lead to creation of a class of people ready to join the cadres of secessionists and terrorists,” it said. “The end object makes it nothing but an act of terror funding. Coming together with these people again points towards a conspiracy and Pakistani hand in it.”
It also described the case as an “orchestra conspiracy”, according to The Indian Express.
“As in an orchestra, each player has its own instrument to play but sharing the same stage, every player or member of the orchestra knows the other player and the role the other person has to play,” the judge observed. “It is the conductor of the orchestra holding the baton in his hand who with the raising of his baton directs which player has to play when and what part.”