AGRA/ LUCKNOW: A five-member team of Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (UPSTF) filed a chargesheet of 5,000-page document against eight members of the Campus Front of India (CFI) — student wing of Popular Front of India (PFI) — before a Mathura court on Saturday, accusing them of receiving funds from abroad to foment caste riots in Hathras in the wake of alleged gang rape of 19-year-old girl which led to her death in September 2020. They were slapped with sedition charges along with the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
The chargesheet has been accepted and the court has fixed May 1 as the next date of hearing.
Five of the eight members charged by the STF were presented before the Mathura court. They included journalist Siddique Kappan, Masood Ahmad, Atiq-ur-Rahman, Mohammad Alam and Rauf Sharif, while two of them — Anshad Badruddin and Firoz Khan — attended the court proceedings via video link from Lucknow jail. The eighth accused, Danish, is yet to be arrested.
In the 5,000-page chargesheet, the PFI members have been accused of receiving funds to the tune of Rs 80 lakh from financial institutions in Muscat and Doha for the purpose.
Defence lawyer Madhuvan Datt Chaturvedi told TOI that after completing their investigation within 180 days, the STF filed its charge sheet with the list of more than 50 witnesses in the court of additional district and sessions judge (first) Anil Kumar Pandey on Saturday.
“Danish has been issued summons for the next hearing,” the lawyer said.
“The accused have dismissed the charges as vague, groundless and initiated for promoting ideological agenda of state government,” the lawyer said, adding that the accused had verbally complained to the court that the authorities were “misbehaving with them inside the jail and had not provided them food for the past 24 hours”. They also alleged that they were being treated shabbily by other prisoners.
The lawyer said that, according to them, they had their last meal around 5 pm on Friday and since then they had not eaten anything despite their medical condition which is said to be “critical”. One of them, Kappan, is a diabetic while Atiq-ur-Rehman is suffering from aortic regurgitation.
Meanwhile, an STF officer said, “All the above named PFI members have been booked under the charges of sedition, wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot, injuring or defiling place of worship to insult the religion of any group and under the Information Technology Act, along with charges of punishment for raising funds for terrorist act and the UAPA.”
The chargesheet stated that materials collected from cellphones and laptops of the accused corroborate that they were trying to spread disharmony in the state by raking up crime incidents such as the one in Hathras.
Documents were collected during searches at the office of PFI in Delhi and evidence was found, the STF said.