Muslim man incarcerated in India for nine years sans trial

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A Muslim man Manzar Imam has been languishing in an India jail for the last nine years over allegations of terrorism. But the matter is yet to cross the first stage of the trial, which is framing of charges against him.

The second stage of the trial, which is the examination of the witnesses, would commence only after the court decides on framing the charges.

Imam, who hails from Ranchi, the capital of the Indian state of Jharkhand, was arrested by India’s dreaded National Investigation Agency (NIA) in August 2013 during the Congress-led UPA government and booked under various sections of the draconian anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and the Indian Penal Code (IPC). A gold medalist in Urdu, Imam was 24-year-old when he was arrested. He is now 33-year-old.

Abu Bakar Sabbaq, who is representing Imam in the court, told the media that they had filed a bail application in the Delhi High Court, but the high court asked him to go to a NIA court. The bail application was rejected by the NIA court in November this year. They are now preparing to go to the high court again, he said.

Commenting on the merit of the case, Sabbaq said, there is no witness and evidence which can connect Manzar Imam but neither is mentioned in the charge sheet. When it comes to trial, in the nine years, arguments on charges have been concluded eight times. But no orders were passed because each time the judge who reserved the verdict got transferred before he or she could pronounce it, he said.

In Imam’s case, chargesheets were filed four times in 2013, 2014 and 2016. There were 11 judges, 133 court hearings and eight dates of inconclusive arguments on charges in the last nine years. However, the trial did not cross the first stage.

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