Students Islamic Movement of India, which had been working among students and youth since 1975, had been under a ban since February 2001. First this ban was imposed in the aftermath of 9/11 when BJP was in power. All sorts of unsubstantiated allegations were levelled against it. It was even charged with acts of terrorism. It was conveniently declared to be the real culprit after every bomb blast. The media faithfully repeated the official charges and added fuel to fire. No body bothered to make independent enquiries. One after another three consecutive tribunals, headed by sitting judges of High Courts, confirmed the bans. The latest ban, the fourth one, was imposed on February 7, 2008. It was referred to a tribunal headed by Delhi High Court judge Geeta Mittal who rejected the grounds supplied by the government and lifted the ban. She said that there was no concrete proof of disruptive activities against the organisation and that government cannot presume that SIMI was involved in riots, bomb blasts and acts of terror without any solid proof. From the beginning it was clear that the government’s charges were dubious, unsustainable and indefensible. Therefore the tribunal threw out the ban.
It is a triumph time for SIMI which has been asserting all along that it is a peace-loving and constructive organisation which wants to present its viewpoint in the open democratic atmosphere of India. It vehemently asserted again and again that it did not believe in violence and subversive activities. But in the prevailing atmosphere of suspicion and hatred the government and media wanted a dead horse to flog it at will. Here, there and everywhere SIMI was blamed for every case of terrorism, while the truth is that not even a single case of terrorist activity was proved against it in any court of law. Even its individual members who had to bear the prejudice of paranoid officials, prejudiced media and careless and at times biased judicial process, were acquitted in case after case.
The reality is that the Government has no proof and no concrete case against this students body. They are an organisation which believed in moral values, character building and peaceful revolution. The individual lives of its adherents bear witness to this open fact. Of course, as usual with youth organisations, there were some angry young men among its ranks who indulged in using fiery rhetoric. Their biggest crime was that they belonged to the Muslim community.
Whenever a ban was imposed and confirmed by a tribunal they promptly filed Special Leave Petitions (SLPs) in the Supreme Court, the highest palladium of justice and the last hope of justice for the victims. This has to be said with a deep sense of sadness that the Supreme Court could not find time to take up any of the three SLPs from SIMI requesting its intervention to secure justice. SIMI’s has been a case of fundamental importance as the question of protection of the fundamental right of freedom of association of a sizeable number of youths belonging to a minority community is involved here.
Let us hope now, when Supreme Court chose to give ‘benefit of doubt’ to Central Government’s case, and stayed the lifting of the ban, that it will act and the long story of injustice and victimisation of the youth organisation will come to an early end.