Court Throws Out Hyderabad Police And AIMIM Contentions In Its Verdict

The Nampally Court has in its verdict rejected the narratives of both Hyderabad police and AIMIM, saying the prosecution had failed to prove the allegations levelled by them.

Hyderabad: The Nampally Criminal court has not given any credence to the prosecution and AIMIM’s contention that recovery of government land and political rivalry respectively were the causes that led to the brutal stabbing of Akbaruddin Owaisi, MLA and AIMIM party leader in the Telangana State Legislative Assembly. Akbaruddin had miraculously survived this attack on him in the Barkas area of the Old City of Hyderabad in 2011.

The court observed that the prosecution had failed to prove that political rivalry or the MLA’s role in recovery of government land were what triggered the attack. The Seventh Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge had acquitted Mohammad Pahelwan and nine others, while convicting four in the case. The Sessions Judge’s made this observation as one of the 13 points he made in the verdict.

“Based on the oral and documentary evidence adduced by both sides, this court came to a conclusion (that) the prosecution failed to establish a conspiracy between Pahelwan and other accused to kill Akbaruddin Owaisi due to political rivalry or his role in the recovery of government land allegedly grabbed by accused,” the judge said.

Besides, the judge said that the prosecution was able to only establish that the four accused, who were convicted for 10 years, had unlawfully assembled on April 30, 2011, before the local AIMIM party office in Barkas with an intention to kill Akbaruddin.

The victim in the case, Akbaruddin Owaisi, who had earlier deposed in the court, said that Pahelwan had joined Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT) in 2009, developed enmity, and threatened to kill him. Akbar alleged that since he tried to stop the grabbing of government land and subsequent illegal constructions by Pahelwan and another Mohammed Bahadur, they decided to murder him.

Discussing the conspiracy charge, the judge said, “I do not think fragile pieces of evidence are sufficient to prove the conspiracy charge against the accused. Since the prosecution had failed to establish beyond doubt the guilt of Pahelwan and other accused, benefit of doubt should be given to the accused.”

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Secret Pact Between MIM And BJP Helps Split In Votes: Congress

Hyderabad: The Congress on Friday appealed to the Muslim community to stay cautious against the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) which is covertly helping the Bharatiya Janata Party strengthen its roots across the country.

“MIM is playing into the hands of BJP to polarise elections. They experimented the polarisation of voters by contesting Maharashtra Assembly elections held in 2016. Their entry helped the BJP and Shiv Sena win the Assembly polls due to division of secular votes. Although the MIM won two seats, it ensured the victory of BJP/Shiv Sena in most of the seats it contested in Maharashtra. The MIM repeated the same thing in just concluded Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. Although the party was rejected by the UP voters, MIM was able to help the BJP win 19 out of 33 seats from where it contested,” said Greater Hyderabad Congress Committee (GHCC) minorities’ department chairman Sheik Abdullah Sohail and TPCC official spokesperson Syed Nizamuddin in a media statement.

Abdullah Sohail said that the MIM was fully aware that the contest in UP polls would be multi-cornered and any division in secular votes would help the BJP. In order to prevent division of secular votes, the Congress and Samajwadi Party entered into an alliance. But Asaduddin Owaisi not only fielded his party’s candidates, but also ran a high profile campaign while addressing multiple public meetings in a day. All this was done to polarise the voters in those constituencies. Consequently, the BJP won from 19 out of 33 seats, he said.

Further, Abdullah Sohail said that the MIM’s presence directly ensured BJP’s victory in three Assembly segments. In Gainsari constituency, BJP candidate won with a margin of just 2,303 votes and this became possible due to 3,160 votes secured by the MIM candidate.

Similarly, MIM candidate’s 2,933 votes helped the BJP win Shrawasti seat with a margin of just 445 votes. Likewise, the MIM helped BJP win Tanda seat. Here, MIM secured 2,070 votes while BJP’s candidate won with a margin of only 1,725 votes. He said some UP leaders have rightly described MIM as “Vote Katwas” (vote cutters).

The Congress leader said that MIM candidates put together secured just 1,75,594 votes from 33 constituencies. But their entry polarised the entire elections in UP. After the announcement of results, MIM President Asaduddin Owaisi has been pleading innocence stating that his party alone should not be blamed for division of secular votes.

He said MIM neither had organisational or ideological presence in Uttar Pradesh before the Assembly elections. Except for the hate speeches of Owaisi brothers, the MIM had no other identity. Therefore, the MIM’s entry was clearly aimed at uniting non-secular votes in favour of BJP.

Meanwhile, TPCC spokesperson Syed Nizamuddin asked the MIM to explain the sources of funds it had spent in UP elections. MIM never contested from all 15 seats of Hyderabad district. But how did it manage to contest in over 30 seats in UP and Asaduddin Owaisi even hired a helicopter to address maximum number of public meetings in a day?

Further, Asaduddin Owaisi was given too much prominence by a section of media which is known for its tilt towards BJP and Sangh Parivar. He pointed out that the same media never did a story on the actual problems being faced by the Muslim community.

The Congress leaders said the MIM was now planning to enter Gujarat and Karnataka to help the BJP win Assembly elections scheduled next year. However, they said that the Congress would not allow MIM to spread its evil tentacles further.

“We will expose the MIM on all streets and corners of Hyderabad and at all other places where they exist and wish to exist. MIM has turned elections into a business where Owaisi brothers make investment by giving hate speeches. Later, they field candidates from the constituencies selected by the BJP and make money,” they alleged.

Abdullah Sohail and Nizamuddin also demanded a probe into the increase in assets of Owaisi brothers since 2014 General Elections. (NSS)

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Crime and punishment Vs life and death

S Madhusudhana Rao

A national debate is raging over whether Yakoub Memon, one of the architects of 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, should be hanged or his death sentence should be commuted to life imprisonment. Most of the arguments and comments, appearing in the print media and on social sites, prefer keeping him in jail to ending his life on the gallows.

Execution as a way to deter heinous crimes is universally frowned upon and whenever a death penalty is imposed on a criminal by a court of law it triggers a fierce debate in countries where the capital punishment is in vogue.

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S Madhusudhana Rao

India is among those that have not abolished death penalty or executions, though these are few compared to other countries. In recent years, the lone Pak gunman Ajmal Kasab who was caught red-handed during the Mumbai terror attacks was executed in 2012 and a year later Mohammed Afzal Guru, the mastermind of 2001 parliament attack. Both hangings had been carried out amid controversies.

Now, the countdown for Yakoub Memon has started with the Supreme Court dismissing on Tuesday his curative petition for reconsideration of death penalty and commuting it to life imprisonment. Earlier, the President had rejected Yakoub’s mercy plea. Meanwhile, with all lifelines exhausted, his family and legal team has made a last-ditch attempt to save the life of the condemned accused by moving the apex court, once again, saying relevant procedures and guidelines were not followed in awarding him death sentence.

Yakoub’s life is hanging between the Supreme Court’s decision and gallows at Nagpur Central Jail. If there is any last-minute reprieve, it will come on technical grounds or through legal loopholes. Otherwise, the stage is set to tighten the noose around Yakoub’s neck at 7am on July 30.

Not surprisingly, the issue has taken a political hue and communal tinge with All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) decrying the capital punishment for Yakoub. The party chief Asaduddin Owaisi in a Facebook post questioned why Yakoub should be hanged when he was not arrested but surrendered and helped the Indian government to nail down Pakistan’s involvement in Mumbai serial blasts.

Also, the fiery member in parliament from Hyderabad said the death sentence of those convicted in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case had been commuted to life terms and felt that Yakoub is facing execution because he belongs to a particular religion.

Reacting to Owaisi’s observations, BJP has accused AIMIM of politicizing the hanging issue while National Congress Party (NCP) said, “we must not see too much of communalism or politics into it.” Maintaining that the death sentence would not serve the interest of justice, CPM has urged the government to defer Yakoub’s hanging since he had chosen to surrender and cooperate with Indian authorities. “He also brought his family back to India to stand trial. Yet, he was singled out for the death sentence while the main perpetrators are at large. Even those convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case with the death sentence have had their sentences commuted to life.”

Similar view was reportedly voiced by B Raman, former head of the Pakistani desk in Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) who coordinated the operation to bring back Yakub Memon to India from Karachi in 1994. According to ANI news agency, Raman wrote an unpublished article in 2007 saying he must not be hanged. In his article on Memon, Raman had reportedly said that his cooperation with investigating agencies needed to be taken into consideration when deciding whether the death penalty should be implemented.

While the law takes its own course, not unduly influenced by public opinion or swayed by sentiment, the apex court’s rulings in Rajiv assassination case and observation on life term are interesting in the light of setting a date for Yakoub’s death.

The Supreme Court, on Thursday, laid down terms to release those who were sentenced to life after completion of 14 or more years. The ruling followed Tamil Nadu government’s unilateral decision last year to free seven life convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. It was challenged by the central government in the apex court, arguing that the state could not exercise executive power to remit the life terms since the suicide bomb attack was conspired by foreigners (Sri Lankans) with local Tamilians’ help and investigated by a central agency (CBI).

In fact, among the seven lifers the Jayalalithaa government had proposed to release, the apex court had commuted three convicts’ death sentence as there was a delay in deciding on their mercy pleas. In the other four cases, the TN government wanted to remit their sentences and free all of them.

On central government’s plea, the apex court directed all state governments, including TN, not to free lifers, pending a decision that was delivered on Thursday. Under the interim order, a lifer accused of murder or rape or both; a convict sentenced to a specific number of years in jail by a high court or the apex court; those serving life terms in cases investigated by central agencies, etc. are not eligible for remission.

The Supreme Court has also observed, according to press reports, that death is better than life imprisonment as life-long incarceration of a criminal will kill his hopes and aspirations. The court has wondered whether it would serve any purpose.

When the renewed pleas for commuting Yakoub’s death penalty is seen in the light of apex court’s guidelines/observations, it’s worth watching what position the highest court of the land would take on the condemned convict.

Irrespective of the legal view, the larger question before the public is: should repentance, admission of guilt, self-reform and the like be given a chance in reforming criminals and convicts of heinous offences?

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