New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday halted a lower court order lifting a ban on an Islamic group that authorities have repeatedly blamed for a string of deadly bombings.
The apex court’s ruling comes one day after the government was left red-faced by a New Delhi court refusing to extend a seven-year ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India, or SIMI, saying the government had been unable to supply any new evidence of illegal activities by the organization.
Under lens: A file picture of the July 2006 train blast in Mumbai. SIMI has been blamed in a string of deadly bombings — such as the ones in Mumbai — in the past three years in India. Photograph: Rajanish Kakade / HT
SIMI has been banned since 2001 and the government has repeatedly linked them to bombing attacks that have rocked India in the past three years, killing hundreds, saying that SIMI activists were working together with foreign Islamic groups.
On Wednesday the government appealed to the Supreme Court, which said the ban would stay in place until it could consider further evidence to be presented by the government within three weeks.
Despite repeated assertions that SIMI was involved in the attacks, Indian police have made little progress in proving this and the evidence they did have was insufficient for the courts. “The material given by the home ministry is insufficient, so the ban cannot be continued,” judge Geeta Mittal of the New Delhi high court wrote on Tuesday.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, already critical of the government’s handling of the attacks, called on the prime minister to fire home minister Shivraj Patil.
Founded in 1977 in northern India, SIMI advocates working to transform India into an Islamic society and freeing the country of Western influences.
Muslims make up about 14% of India’s 1.1 billion people and lag far behind the Hindu majority in almost every social indicator, from household income to literacy.