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Malda: A court in Malda in northern Bengal has acquitted a man of charges of anti-India activities for which he has spent the past near 12 years behind the bars.

Izaz Ahmed alias Muslim Chaha was today acquitted by Rajesh Tamang, the additional district judge of Malda. Ahmed has, however, been convicted for unauthorised entry and stay in India under section 14 of the Foreigners Act.

The judge will pronounce the quantum of punishment for this tomorrow. This is even as Ahmed continues to claim himself an Indian hailing from Kupwara in Jammu & Kashmir.

Now is his 50’s, Ahmed was arrested by the police in March 2005 from Kaliachak in Malda notorious for cross-border smuggling of fake currencies, cattle, and poppy cultivation. The arrest came following a tip-off from the Intelligence Branch and the J&K Police.

Accusing him of being a cadre of militant outfit Al-Badr, he was booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections120B, 121A, 121(2), and 124A that pertain to waging war on India and criminal conspiracy. Additionally, section 14 of the Foreigners Act was slapped on him as police claimed him to be Pakistani citizen hailing from Bahawalnagar district.

Since then, he has been lodged in the Malda jail. In the past 12 years, police took him to Kashmir, Punjab, and Rajasthan as part of the investigation. Despite this, the investigators failed to produce evidence in the court that could establish that Ahmed was indeed a militant and was engaged in anti-India activities.

However, his claim that he is a resident of Kupwara district could not be ascertained as police did not find his family members at the address that he had given. At the end of the trial, the judge today acquitted him of charges of anti-India activities but convicted him as a foreigner.

While being taken back to the jail from the court today, Ahmed thanked the judiciary for the fair trial and even chanted ‘Mera Desh Mahan,’ and ‘Hindustan Zindabad’. He pleaded continued to claim that he was an Indian citizen and said that he was come to Kalichak to attend a marriage when police arrested him on false charges.