A low-intensity explosion took place near the Israel embassy in New Delhi on January 29. There were no injuries. Four Kargil based students were arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell.
On June 15, the NIA had released CCTV footage of two suspects as if they were allegedly planting explosive material outside the Israeli embassy. A reward of Rs 10 lakh was announced for information on the duo. The Special Cell arrested the students on June 23. The arrest took place in a joint operation with “a central agency” and local police. They were then taken to Delhi.
During the investigation, their electronic gadgets were taken and sent to CERT-in (Indian Computer Emergency Response Team) for extraction of data and other details relating to Twitter accounts and other social media, call records, internet providers, bank details, etc.
Details of the Accusations:
The report filed by the Investigating Officer (IO) mentioned that one of the accused posted “highly objectionable” material on social media. The so called “highly objectionable” content was some tweets and Facebook post criticising Israel, US and other Western countries.
The court however dismissed this, by saying that, “Nothing in the report suggests that any of the accused persons was posting any objectionable material against India.” The court also highlighted the blemish free antecedents of the students. “As per report of the IO, Nazir is a supporter of IRGC (Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) but same is not a terrorist organisation,” the court stated in the order.
The accused, Nazir Hussain, Zulfikar Ali, Ajaz Hussain and Muzammil Hussain are all students in their 20s, residents of Thang village in Kargil. The counsel representing the students stated that Ajaz Hussain, Muzammil Hussain and Zulfiqar Ali were graduates. They were in Delhi at the time, to take their competitive exams, whereas Nazir Hussain had been staying in his hometown Kargil for the last one-and-a-half years. The Metropolitan Magistrate Dr Pankaj Sharma in the bail order said nothing incriminating had been put forth by the investigating officer (IO) to suggest that they were linked to terrorist organisations or posed a threat to society.
“Considering the age, antecedents and the fact that all the accused persons are students having roots in society and in the backdrop of the fact that the IO has the custody of the relevant evidence, all accused persons are ordered to be released on bail”. – As per the court order.
Implications of the Case:
The court in its order has rightly noted the sheer lack of evidence and flimsy connections made between the students and terrorist conspiracies. In the process of investigation four young Muslim students from Ladakh have undergone relentless legal process and arrest, with all their privacy violated as a result, on the basis of suspicion. The use of social media posts against US and Israel as proof of links to terrorist organisations, is also concerning and poses serious implications to many who voice critical opinions on Israeli military aggression and US imperialism online.
The NIA’s involvement in the case also further fuels the fire around the four students as threats to national security. With not much coverage on the bail order of the court, but heavy coverage on the initial arrests and NIA involvement, the narrative around the case is what remains in the minds of the people.
The surveillance on the four of them is still ongoing as the bail condition states that they are to report to the IO on the second and fourth Saturdays of every month till the filing of the charge-sheet or six months. They also have to drop a pin on Google Maps to share their location with the IO at any given time.