In September 2001, the central government banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) through a notification. Since then, the ban has become a convenient pretext for the police and investigative agencies to arbitrarily pick, detain and then arrest and frame Muslim youth, ostensibly on charges of carrying on the activities of the banned organization. Sections 3, 10, 13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA 1967) have been invoked against scores, if not hundreds of Muslim youth across the country. Some of these men had been active in SIMI prior to its ban; some had outgrown the organization because they had crossed 30 years—the age limit for membership in the organization; some were guilty of having acquaintances, friends or relatives who had been involved or had been office bearers in SIMI. On most occasions, the cases against former members or purported activists of SIMI have rested on seizure of banned literature, namely copies of magazines published by SIMI before the ban. The flimsiness of evidence –and the sketchiness of charges— has resulted in dozens of acquittals; but equally true is the fact that the overwhelming nature of the ‘war on terror’ discourse and its institutional structures has allowed the conviction of many even in face of glaring lack of evidence.
The JAMIA TEACHERS SOLIDARITY ASSOCIATION (JTSA) profiles here one such case, which came to be known as the Jaipur blasts case, even though the accused were not charged with either conspiracy or execution of bomb blasts in Jaipur in 2008. So what were these men guilty of? According to the FIR and chargesheet, they were responsible for carrying out activities of the banned SIMI. How and why did these men come to be identified with the Jaipur blasts? Theirs is a terrible and tragic tale of frame up by the Rajasthan police. It is above all testimony to the employment of UAPA against alleged or former members of SIMI and of the manner in which rule of law is subverted, violated and discarded as soon as the ‘T’ word is uttered.