NIA Court convicts 18 in Vagamon SIMI arms training camp case

The National Investigation Agency headquarters. File

Kochi: A day after finding them guilty, a special court here on Tuesday awarded seven years of rigorous imprisonment to 18 convicts in the 2007 Vagamon SIMI camp case.

The trial commenced in January a year ago and 33 accused persons lodged in prisons in Ahmedabad, Delhi, Bhopal and Bengaluru were produced through video-conference, while the remaining two accused were produced in person.

All the 18 were convicted under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 120B of IPC and 10 (Membership of an Unlawful Association etc) and 38 (Membership of a terrorist organization) of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), besides Section 4 of the Explosive Substances Act. Video-conferencing had also been arranged for the pronouncement of the verdict.

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The case was registered by the Kerala Police against Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) members for holding an arms training camp in December 2007 at Thangalpara in Kerala's Wagamon.

Founder-member of the Indian Mujahideen, Abdul Subhan Qureshi alias Taqueer, nicknamed Indian Bin Laden, also attended the secret camp.

SIMI had been banned in 2001 as a terror organisation for being "suppliers" of cadres to terror groups such as Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and the Harkat ul-Jihad-e-Islami in carrying out activities in India and Afghanistan.

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The NIA had arraigned 38 persons as accused in the case, but only 36 faced trial as one of the accused Mehaboob Sheikh, of UP, was shot dead in Bihar in a bid to escape from jail in 2016. Investigations have revealed that the participants were imparted training, in handling arms, manufacture of petrol bombs, motorbike racing and rope climbing.

First accused Eerattupetta Peedikkal P A Shaduli (Harris), fourth accused Peedikkal PA Shibily, fifith accused Aluva Kunhunnikkara Perunthelil PA Muhammad Ansar (Ansar Nadvi), sixth accused Perunthelil Abdul Sathar are the Keralites involved in the case. The case, according to the NIA, relates to a secret training camp organized by the activists of the banned outfit SIMI at Thangalpara, Wagamon in Kerala in December, 2007. The agency had found that six engineers and three doctors had participated in the camp. The planning for several explosions that occurred in the country was conducted at this camp, it was found. "However, since they are facing trial in another case - Ahmedabad serial blasts, they won't be set free now", said an officer of the NIA. The prosecution said the SIMI members met in Indore in November 2007 and chose to run training camps in some states.

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