Mohammad Irfan

Mohammad Irfan was one of five Muslim men arrested in 2012 by Maharashtra police’s anti-terrorism squad.


The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Hindu nationalist party led by current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been strategically targeting Indian activists and journalists, specifically those critical of the Indian government, since it took power in 2014. The state uses laws like the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) to detain people, many of whom are student activists, without a formal charge or trial.

Activists and human rights advocates have expressed grave concerns over the immense crackdown on free speech in India, according to Wired. Specifically, the UAPA is a tool to silence and remove voices of dissent — especially Kashmiri, Muslim, Dalit, and Adivasi voices of dissent — without the need for evidence. In May 2022, some UN experts spoke out about how many aspects of the UAPA oppose international human rights law and standards.

Life and Activism

Mohammad Irfan was one of five men arrested in 2012 under numerous charges, including the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, according to AlJazeera. The Maharashtra police claimed that the five men — all of whom are Muslim — had ties to the Pakistan-based arms group, Laskhar-e-Taiba, and that they planned to murder politicians, police officers and journalists. Maharashtra police’s anti-terrorism squad (ATS) had connected Irfan to a seizure of firearms, according to reporting by Indian Express. After nine years, Irfan was eventually acquitted on June 15, 2021 after the courts said there was no evidence against him.

Only Mohammad Irfan and his co-accused, Mohammed Ilyas, were acquitted. Mohammed Akram, Mohammad Muzammil and Mohammed Sadique were all convicted under the UAPA and other charges and sentenced to 10 years in prison, according to AlJazeera. Both Irfan and Ilyas had filed multiple bail applications over the course of the nine years and claimed that neither the ATS nor the National Investigation Agency had any evidence against them.

UAPA has become a means for the Indian state to imprison without real cause. “UAPA has become a convenient tool to target activists, religious and ethnic minorities and to spawn fear among people to manufacture a rationale for an authoritarian state to act with impunity,” Vrinda Grover told AlJazeera.

Charges and Allegations

Charged under the UAPA and other charges

Current Status

Acquitted after nine years in prison

Last Update

Acquitted after nine years in prison

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