Mohammed Haneef, a religious scholar from Kerala — booked for radicalising the son of a Mumbai-based businessman and inducing him to join the Islamic State (ISIS) — moved a bail plea before the sessions court earlier this week, saying that preaching or providing religious knowledge is not an offence under the law.
Haneef was arrested in Kannur on August 13, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), on the complaint of Nagpada businessman Abdul Khan. Abdul said his son Ashfaque was radicalised by Haneef and his associates. Ashfaque, along with several youth, had left India to join ISIS.
In a bail plea filed by advocate Sharif Shaikh and his associates, Haneef said he was falsely implicated. “He was undertaking religious work as an Imam (leader) in the Masjid, according to Islam and its customs. Apart from leading [Muslims in] prayer five times a day, he was assigned to spread Islamic values among the Muslim community. Preaching and religious speech cannot be an offence under any law,” reads the bail plea.
Haneef said he did not engage or participate in or became a member of any unlawful organisations at any point. He also claimed that the allegations against him were concocted.
Contrary to Haneef’s claims, the crime branch stated that he was one of the key conspirators in the case. After preliminary investigations, the National Investigation Agency took over the case. Haneef was also booked in connection with a case, in which a Christian family was allegedly converted to Islam and radicalised to join ISIS.