On Tuesday, the NIA special court in Kochi sentenced 18 accused in the sensational case pertaining to the banned organisation Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) running an arms training camp at Vagamon in Kerala. The accused have been sentenced to seven years of rigorous imprisonment.
The court found 18 of the accused guilty while 17 others have been acquitted for lack of evidence.
The accused have been found guilty under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), the Explosives Substances Act and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. The trial in the case began in January 2017 and it entered the final stage in March this year. As many as 35 out of the 38 accused faced trial in the case.
The remand period of the convicted can be included in the sentence, the court said.
Four of the convicted are from Kerala. They include the prime accused PA Saduli of Erattupetta, fourth accused PA Shibily of Peedikkal, fifth accused PA Mohammed Ansar of Aluva, and sixth accused Abdul Sathar of Perumthelil.
Though the prosecution failed to prove the charge that the accused had waged an armed war against the country, the accusation that they were members of a terror outfit could be proven.
Trial through video conferencing was held for the other accused who have been housed in Sabarmati prison in Gujarat and Hindalaga prison in Karnataka as they are also the accused in explosion cases. This is reportedly the first case in the state for which the trial was held through video-conferencing, connecting the NIA court with jails in cities like New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bhopal and Bengaluru.
The 37th accused Wasiq Abdulla of Uttar Pradesh is still absconding. The 31st accused Mehaboob Malik of Madhya Pradesh was shot dead by security officers while trying to escape from jail. Another accused Wasiq Billa is also absconding.
The sensational case refers to the arms camp at Thangalpara at Vagamon which was run from 10 to 12 December in 2007. In the camp, training was given for sharp shooting, making petrol bombs and bike racing through forest areas.
Vagamon is a hill town located in the Kottayam-Idukki border of the Kottayam district in the state. The case was first probed by an internal security agency and the NIA later took over the investigation.