Court denies Bail to lawyer with purported PFI links

Sadique Qureshi, a 42-year-old lawyer who was detained last year on suspicion of having ties to the outlawed Popular Front of India (PFI), had his bail application denied by a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court on Thursday.

In addition to offering legal assistance to the PFI organization, the applicant (Sadique Qureshi) appears to have engaged in illegal activity based on the documentation submitted. The applicant was actively involved in illegal activity and was gathering money for the PFI organization. Qureshi was managing PFI’s operations and organizing different programs, special judge BD Shelke stated, turning down Qureshi’s request for bail.

The defense had requested bail, claiming that political pressure had caused the investigating agency to use him as a scapegoat. He argued that he practiced law, was active in the community, and that some of the co-accused and witnesses in the case were his clients; however, he denied knowing that they were involved in the organization’s activities.

“Being a member of PFI does not automatically make one a terrorist; evidence of the organization’s involvement in terrorist activities is required.” Nothing in the documentation indicates that the PFI’s operations were prohibited. The defense asserted, “There is no document demonstrating what plan was hatched against the nation by members of the gang.”

The state’s special public prosecutor, Sunil Gonsalves, refuted the allegations by stating that the Indian government had banned the PFI with effect from September 27, 2022. “Office bearers and members of this organization included a large number of Mohammedan community members from various cities. They had communication with one another. All of the activities were administered by the applicant. Gonsalves stated, “Everything was done in accordance with his advice and guidance.”

The Anti-Terrorist Squad was provided with classified information that claimed Kalachowky, Qureshi, accused Mazhar Khan, Momin Hussain, Mohmmad Khan, Mohmmad Adhikar, and several others were planning anti-national activities and arranging events in Thane, Mumbra, Trombay, and Vashi during February and June of 2022.

According to reports, Qureshi served as the group’s legal advisor and organized lectures on how to avoid the law. It was further claimed that the accused planned to implement Shariat law in place of the Indian Constitution in order to create an Islamic State.

The prosecution further asserted that the defendants relied on foreign assistance to upset national peace while teaching young people how to use weapons under the pretense of a health program.

In addition to being charged under section 13(1)(b) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (punishment for unlawful activities), Qureshi was also charged under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 121-A (conspiracy to commit offences), and 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) of the Indian Penal Code.

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