12 years on, Abu Azmi convicted for provocative speech

A Metropolitan magistrate court on Monday convicted and sentenced Samajwadi Party (SP) MLA Abu Azmi to two years' imprisonment in a 12-year-old case. Azmi, who was booked for provocative speech at a rally at Mastan Talao, Nagpada on February 24, 2000, was tried under several Sections of the Indian Penal Code for promoting enmity between two groups on grounds of religion, caste, race and for imputations and assertions prejudicial to national-integration.

The sentence, however, was suspended so that the accused could move a higher court. According to the prosecution, Azmi had allegedly said that, "If Islam were to be attacked, he would not be bothered if India was to face another partition." Azmi was tried with four other party members Waqarunnissa Ansari, a former SP corporator who is now a Congress corporator, LalBahadur Singh, then a SP worker and now with the NCP, Ehsanullah Khan, then a SP corporator and now with the NCP, and Ali M Shamsi, who works with an NGO.

All five have been slapped with a fine of Rs 11,000 each.

According to the prosecution, the speech made by Azmi was directed at Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and Congress leader Narayan Rane, who was then with the Shiv Sena. "Azmi hadspoken provocative things," said prosecutor Varsha Doshi.

Soon after the sentence, all five sought time to move the higher court. The sentence was suspended and they were released on bail.

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