The Kerala High Court on Monday upheld the conviction and life sentences of 10 defendants, including alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) member Tadiyantavide Naseer, by an NIA court in 2013 in a case involving the recruitment of young people from Kerala for terrorist camps in Jammu and Kashmir to “wage war on India”.
While upholding their beliefs, the high court said: “For those with such radical thoughts, we can only say that the grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence, if you just look the story”. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) tribunal has convicted and sentenced 13 people to life for the offenses of war against India and conspiracy to make war against the country as provided for in Sections 121 and 121A of the Indian Penal Code.
He had also sentenced them to life in prison for various offenses under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
A bench of judges K Vinod Chandran and C Jayachandran upheld the convictions and jail terms of 10 of the 13 defendants and acquitted the other three – MH Faisal, Ummer Farooq and Muhammed Navas.
The high court said it believed “there was clearly a conspiracy to radicalize and recruit young Muslims to wage war against India”, but the three were not part of it.
The court also convicted the 10 defendants of the offenses of criminal conspiracy, collecting weapons to wage war against India and sedition under Sections 120B, 122 and 124A of the ICC, respectively, and convicted them. sentenced to life imprisonment for each of these crimes. .
The high court, however, said the life sentences would be served concurrently.
The 10 defendants were convicted of the offenses under Sections 120B, 122 and 124A of the ICC following an appeal by the NIA against the acquittal of the 13 defendants for these crimes.
The Deputy Solicitor General of India, S. Manu, who represented the NIA, had affirmed before the High Court the legality of the conviction and sentence handed down by the trial court and sought the reversal of the acquittal of the accused for certain offences. The ASG had argued that when the other offenses of Articles 121 and 121A of the ICC were established, there was no reason to acquit the accused for the offenses of Articles 120B, 122 and 124A of the ICC.
He had asked that the appeals be dismissed by the accused and that the plea of the NIA be granted.
The High Court, in its 205-page judgment, dismissed appeals by 10 of the 13 defendants against their conviction and sentencing by the NIA court in 2013.
The joint verdict came on appeals by the 13 defendants against their conviction and conviction, and on the NIA’s plea to convict them for the additional offenses under Sections 120B, 122 and 124A of the IPC.
Upholding the conviction and sentence of the 10, the high court said: “It has been clearly established that a conspiracy has been hatched to recruit men for terrorist activities, to train them in arms and ammunition and to wage war with the India, which probably failed with four out of five being shot in encounters.
“It would have had far-reaching consequences, generally for the nation and in particular for this state; but for the sudden death of four of these recruits during encounters in Kashmir. The bench further said that the testimonies, the documents produced, in particular the CDRs, and the extracts made from the digital devices seized from the homes of two of the defendants together prove the charges against the 10.
“There is unity of object and goal, although the means have been achieved differently,” he added.
The bench further noted that “there was a clear and unbroken chain of circumstances linking the accused, with the hatched conspiracy of recruitment to carry out terrorist activities; the manifest acts of war against the nation having been proved by the death of the four recruits.
“The evidence adduced infallibly incriminates each of the defendants as a member of the conspiratorial team.” There were 24 defendants in the case which came to light after four of them – Muslim youths from Kerala – were killed in three separate encounters in Kashmir.
The four and a fifth were, according to the NIA, recruited in Kerala and taken to Kashmir.
The fifth recruit had surrendered to the law and was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison by the NIA court, the High Court noted in its judgment.
Among the others, two are still at large, five were acquitted by the court of first instance and 13 were convicted by it.
The bench noted that the five young men’s decision to join a terrorist group “created a living hell for their families who were wracked with grief, coupled with shame.”
“Attracted by the pleasures of a celestial paradise, obtained only by killing fellow human beings and compatriots, five young men traveled to “heaven on earth”, to embrace death before becoming its messengers.
“Whether the dead now enjoy the pleasures of elusive heaven is a debatable question, but they certainly created a living hell for their families who were steeped in grief coupled with shame,” he said.
‘The trial saw friends and relatives crumble and a sister recounting how her studies abruptly came to an end,’ the High Court added and stressed that the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence for those who have such radical thoughts.