A court in Surat, Gujarat, on Saturday, March 6, acquitted 122 persons, who were arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), for allegedly being members of the banned outfit, Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and attending a meeting organised by the establishment in 2001.
The Chief Judicial Magistrate AN Dave acquitted the accused, giving them the benefit of the doubt, and said they could not be held guilty under the UAPA, LiveLaw reported.
Surat's Athwalines police had arrested 127 persons on December 28, 2001, under various sections of the UAPA. The police suspected that they were members of the terror outfit SIMI. The central government had banned the organisation on September 27, 2001.
The people were accused of holding a meeting at a hall in the city's Sagrampura to promote and expand the organisation's activities. All of them belonged to different parts of the country, including Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Five of them died during the pendency of the trial over the years.
In their defence, the group said that they had gathered in the hall to participate in a seminar organised under the All India Minority Education Board banner, and were not members of SIMI. They had been in the city solely for religious and educational purposes and participate in the seminar in a peaceful manner
According to the Indian Express, IGP PK Roushan, who had supervised the investigation said that upon verification it was found that the organisation, said to be registered in Delhi, did not exist.