Allahabad HC disapproves use of term ‘South Terror’ in Popular Front of India case

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The Allahabad High Court has disapproved the use of the term “South Terror” by the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad for the outfit Popular Front of India, two members of which were arrested in February on allegations that they were planning to target leaders of ‘Hindu’ outfits and strike at ‘sensitive’ spots in the northern state with terror attacks.

The court made the observation while dismissing a petition filed by one of the accused men Anshad Badarudheen through his brother, who had sought transfer of the investigation in the case from the ATS to the CBI. Mr. Badarudheen’s counsel had argued that the investigation was not being carried out in a free and fair manner and alleged that the State authority and investigating agency were prejudiced and biased against the petitioner as he was a member of the PFI.

The PFI, the petitioner’s counsels argued, had been labelled as “South Terror” on the portal of the U.P. ATS.

The division bench of Justices Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya and Ajai Kumar Srivastava on July 27 said the use of the term “South Terror” did not import bias or malice but expressed concern over its use.

“So far as the allegation of use of term ‘South Terror’ on the portal of respondent no.5 is concerned, it is pertinent to mention here that use of such term would not per se import element of malice or bias towards the petitioner. However, we view this fact with profound concern and disapprove use of such term,” Justice Srivastava noted.

The court also said it did not view the case as a rare or exceptional one where investigation needed to be transferred to the CBI as a court monitored matter.

The U.P. Special Task Force had claimed that they had recovered heavy explosives from the duo and foiled attacks planned by them.

The PFI had dismissed the U.P. police claims and alleged that the two Kerala men were picked up by the State police and illegally detained days before the formal arrest while they were on their way to Mumbai-bound train from Bihar.

Mr. Badarudheen and Firos K.C. were arrested near the Kukrail tri-junction in Gudamba area of Lucknow, the STF had said in February.

Sixteen high grade explosive devices with battery detonator and red wires, one bundle red wire, a 32 bore pistol and seven live cartridges were recovered from them, the police alleged.

While the police alleged the two men were also recruiting members in different parts of India for their plans, the PFI claimed they were touring West Bengal and Bihar for the outfit’s expansion.

The FIR lodged at the ATS police station Lucknow had invoked charges of criminal conspiracy, waging war against the government, Section 3 and 5 of Arms Act, Sections-3, 4 and 5 of Explosive Substances Act, 1908 and Sections-13, 16, 18 & 20 of UA(P) Act.

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