This is the first time that the NIA has arrested lawyers as a part of its investigation.
NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) in an operation that started on Friday late night, arrested three individuals, including two senior lawyers and a law student from Jabalpur, for their alleged links to proscribed Bangladeshi terror organization, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (Assembly of Mujahideen—Bangladesh) or JMB. This is the first time that the NIA has arrested lawyers as a part of its investigation.
A 90-member NIA team led by a 2009 batch IPS officer of a Deputy Inspector General (DIG) rank knocked at the “Badi Omti Nagar” residence of senior lawyer Ahad Ullah Usmani and his younger brother Aman Ullah Usmani and after a search operation that lasted at least nine hours took him into custody at 9 am in the morning along with Arham Ullah Usmani, a 21-year-old law student who is the son of Aman Ullah.
As per NIA sources, during its investigations in the cases against Popular Front of India (PFI), it came across evidences that money was being transferred by JMB from Bangladesh to the Usmani brothers which in turn was being used to pay for the legal fees of the other lawyers who were engaged in defending the JMB terrorists who have been arrested by the NIA in the past.
A senior NIA official told The Sunday Guardian that a discreet inquiry was being conducted on the said individuals for the last few months and only after substantive proof that can be presented in the court was secured, did the NIA decide to move against the lawyers.
Sources said that at least 12 places in Jabalpur were raided by the NIA on Friday night and Saturday morning. This was a part of investigation into terror funds that were coming from JMB to the central state in which a similar action was done in capital Bhopal by NIA a few days ago. The NIA had first found the trace of JMB’s penetration in MP in April last year. At least 10 alleged JMB cadres, that includes six from Bangladesh, were arrested by NIA earlier from MP. The NIA’s probe against terror funding has gained significant speed after Director General Dinkar Gupta took charge in June last year.
Roshni Usmani, the wife of Aman Ullah, who is also a lawyer, while speaking to the Sunday Guardian from Jabalpur said that the NIA officials had told that they were taking the three into custody for failing to deposit the three bullet boxes that the NIA had found from the house during the raid.
“We had two guns, one 0.5 rifle and one 0.3 pistol that belonged to my father in law. After he passed away, we deposited the two guns at the local Omti nagar police station. We showed the proof of them to the NIA officials too. But they still arrested them stating that since bullets were found in the house, it was a case of illegal weapons. We had forgotten to deposit the bullets as they were kept by my father in law in an old drawer,” she said.
According to her, her 21-year-old nephew Arham Ullah was arrested on the charges of being a member of a social media group that was spreading ‘anti-national’ content. “The NIA officials themselves said that he had not written or said anything in this group. My nephew does not even know how he got added to this group but still he was taken into custody,” she stated. According to her they NIA had imposed sections like 120B (criminal conspiracy), 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of Indian Penal Code and multiple section of Unlawful Activities (Prevention Act) 1967, that includes section 16, 17, 18B and 20 (Punishment for terrorist act, Punishment for raising funds for terrorist act, Punishment for conspiracy and Punishment for recruiting of any person or persons for terrorist act.).
Lawyers practising in Jabalpur High court told The Sunday Guardian that Ahadulla Usmani, who is a member of the Waqf board, is a respected, senior lawyer of the bar and the NIA’s actions and arrests had come as a shock. “He is not like the person he is being accused of. I have known him for several years. This is likely because of some mistake and confusion,” a senior Jabalpur based HC lawyer said.