UP may ask Centre to free terror accused

UP may ask Centre to free terror accused

UP may ask Centre to free terror accused

The Samajwadi Party (SP) government plans to ask the Centre to withdraw cases against several terror accused who have been languishing in different jails in Uttar Pradesh.

The political move is aimed at wooing Muslims and putting the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre in a difficult situation ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

The decision to put the ball in the Centre's court comes after the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court ruled that the state government had no authority to withdraw cases against the terror accused as many of the Acts under which they had been booked were Central Acts. The court said in its order that as most of the accused had been booked under the Central Acts, the consent of the Union government was essential while moving to withdraw cases against them.

“It is a sensitive issue. Let the Congress take a decision on this. It will have to decide whether life of the people is less important than the right to food,” quipped senior Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan.

SP leaders also said that the state government could not be blamed for failing to get the jailed Muslim youths released. “We have been trying to get them released but there are legal issues involved,” said a senior party leader here.

The SP had in its manifesto during the 2012 Ässembly elections in the state had promised that it would ensure release of innocent Muslim youths lodged in various jails in the state on charges of terrorism.

Barely a few months after assuming the reins of the state, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had directed the law department to initiate steps for the withdrawal of cases against 19 people, who had been accused of terror acts and against whom cases were pending trial. Among those whose release were sought by the government were some who had been accused of triggering blasts that had killed several people.

In some cases, district officials had said that withdrawal of cases against the accused would not be in public interest. They had also claimed that the prosecution had credible evidence against all the blast accused. Various Muslim organisations were up in arms against the SP regime for its failure on this count and have threatened to oppose it in the next Lok Sabha polls. “We will not have to share the blame if  the matter goes to the Centre's court,” the SP leader said.