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NIA court acquits former Islamic Research Foundation staffer Arshi Qureshi of all UAPA charges

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The Special NIA court has acquitted former staffer of the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) Arshi Qureshi, who was arrested in 2016 on allegations of radicalising the younth and pursuing them to join the terrorist organisation Islamic State (IS).

Special Judge of NIA court A.M. Patil on September 30 cleared the 52-year-old of all charges he was booked for, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, including abetting and inciting commission of unlawful activity, besides lending support to a terrorist organisation.

NIA had booked him in 2016, while he was working as Guest Relations Manager of IRF, founded by controversial Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik.

Qureshi was arrested by Mumbai Police on the basis of a complaint filed by one Abdul, alleging that his son Ashfak Majeed was indoctrinated by Qureshi through his work at IRF.

Abdul had alleged that Ashfak, along with his wife, daughter and other youngsters from Kerala, had left the country to join IS. He further alleged that Qureshi had allegedly influenced them to join the terrorist orgnisation.

The Central government had banned IRF in 2016, citing this case against Qureshi as one of the reasons for doing the same.

In 2017, NIA took over the probe from Mumbai police and filed a charge sheet against Qureshi. NIA dropped charges against two others, who were also arrested with Qureshi, stating that there was not enough evidence against them.

Appearing for Qureshi during the final argument before the court, Advocates T.W. Pathan, I.A. Khan and Faizan Qureshi submitted that there was no evidence to show that he had, in any manner, incited the youth to join the terrorist organisation.

The lawyers further contended that Qureshi was neither a member, nor sympathiser of the organisation.

There was nothing on record to suggest that at any point of time, the IRF staffer had either arranged, encouraged or addressed a meeting to propagate any unlawful activity or support any cause or purpose of any banned organisation, noted the Advocates.

They said NIA had not produced any documents on record to ratify that the missing youngsters had joined any banned organisation, nor were they named as accused in the case.

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