Indian pair jailed for recruiting, fundraising for Daesh

NEW DELHI: Two men accused of fund-raising and recruiting for Daesh in India were sentenced to seven years in jail Friday, an official said.

Azhar-Ul-Islam and Mohammad Farhan Shaikh were arrested by India’s counterterrorism body the National Investigation Agency (NIA) last year after being deported from a Gulf country for illegal fund-raising activities.

“Both of them were already in jail, and were today sentenced to seven years in prison by the court,” Alok Mittal, an inspector general at the NIA, said.

The duo, both in their mid-twenties, had pleaded guilty to charges of criminal conspiracy last month “without any pressure, threat, coercion or undue influence”, according to the Press Trust of India.

“They were members of terrorist organisation and got themselves associated with their activities. That may be their folly either on account of misguidance or lack of maturity of mind and circumstances,” Judge Amar Nath said.

“This court needs to take into account positive aspect from their act of pleading guilty.”

The court felt that the convicts had realised their mistakes and were willing to repent for their acts and deeds.

“In this case, the convicts should get an opportunity to reform themselves and be good citizens of this country,” the judge observed.

“Keeping in view the facts and circumstances, I am of considered opinion that there is a necessity to show some leniency while imposing punishment on the convicts, but at the same time, a wrong message should not go to the society,” the court said while awarding them the jail term.

The court also imposed a fine of Rs12,000 (Dh682) on each of them.

The men were said to use social networks such as WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook to promote Daesh ideology, enlist new recruits and assist others wishing to travel to the Middle East to link up with the group, the NIA said.

They also raised cash for Daesh.

Friday’s verdict comes a day after Indian police arrested 10 suspected Daesh sympathisers in raids conducted across four states.

The government insists Daesh does not have a foothold in India, which has a large but traditionally moderate Muslim minority.

There have been some reports of Indians going to fight for the group in Iraq and Syria but the numbers are low relative to India’s population of 1.2 billion.

The NIA submitted before the court that the accused had shown their repentance for their acts and requested the court to consider that the accused’s action was a move towards re-connecting with society.

Azhar’s counsel had sought leniency for his client on the ground that he was young, unmarried and the sole bread winner of his family, while Farhan’s counsel sought leniency citing his poor family background and no previous criminal record.

Both the accused requested the court to take a lenient view of their acts, which could give them an opportunity to lead a normal life.

In their applications, both of them pleaded that they were remorseful of their actions.

“We want to return to the mainstream and be productive for society and want to rehabilitate ourselves,” they said, adding that their guilty plea was made without any pressure, threat, coercion or undue influence.

— Agencies