PRESS RELEASE- Fact Finding Report on Kerala Arrests under UAPA #draconianlaws


Kannur,
17- 05 – 2013
Following the news reports about the arrest of 21 Muslim youths under UAPA in Narath (Kannur dt.) by the Kerala police, a team of National Confederation of Human Rights (NCHRO) visited the place yesterday and today, met the relatives of the arrested, people living in the neighbourhood of the place of arrest and police officers with a view to collect the facts regarding. The team members are: NCHRO National Secretary Reny Ayline (Trivandram), Executive Members Prof. A.Marx (Chennai), G.Sugumaran (Puducherry), Kerala state committee member Advocate M.Abdul Shukoor (Malappuram), Writer and Activist K.M.Venugopal (Kannur) and Journalist Mohammed Shabir (Mangalore).
All the youths arrested are sympathisers of Popular Front of India (PFI), a registered organisation . They are conducting a programme every year known as “ Healthy People, Healthy Nation” in which they impart physical fitness training, yoga, some martial arts as well as religious and moral education to young people. This year also they were conducting the programme in a building owned by one Thanal Trust which is also a registered body under Charitable Trusts Act. This building is situated in a densely populated area in Narath behind the Falah English Medium High School. It is a half-built building without proper doors or the windows and everything that happens within the four walls of the building is visible to everybody outside. All the youths who took part in the programme were coming from the neighbourhood villages and they used to return to their homes in the nights.
According to the eye witnesses of the arrest which includes Mrs P.M.Saleem, Mrs. Abdul Jaffar, M.Abdullah, K.P.Mussam Kutty, all neighbours living around that building, a team of four policemen first entered the building on April 23 around 12.30 pm. The people around thought that it might be a regular visit of the police who used to come there often in search of sand mafia who are very active in that area. But soon a large battalion of police came there and took all the people in the building with them.
The police version of the story goes like this. As per the FIR filed by them (Mayyil P.S. FIR No 276/13), these people were given instructions on bomb making and training in the use of arms. They were able to seize two country bombs, one sword, and some materials and instruments necessary to make the bombs. Accordingly cases were filed under sections 143, 147, 153(B), R/W 149 IPC, Sec 5(1)(a) r/w 25(1)(a) of Arms Act, Sec 4 & of ES Act and Sec 18 of UAPA) against all the 21 Muslim youths and they were remanded to custody.
But not only the parents and relatives of the accused but also the neighbours mentioned above told us that no such armed training took place there, all the physical exercises and classes were very peaceful. One of the neighbours M.Abdullah said that he used to send his wife for the religious classes conducted there. The only Hindu living near the building one Suthish s/o Raghavan also said the same. He also denied that any bomb making or arms trainings were imparted to them. The Jamath member Mussam Kutty and the principal of Falah English Medium School Mr.P.Mustafa also said that the programmes were very peaceful and no such arms training were given to the inmates.
We also met the President of the Narath Grama Panchayat Mr.K.V.Mamy and a ward member Abdul Salam Haji. The former is a member of CPI(M) and the latter that of IUML. They also said that no such arms and bomb making trainings are possible in their panchayat limit. Nothing of that sort happened, they said. The president also attended a training programme conducted by the Thanal trust few weeks back known as ‘Happy Family’ in which Dr Ashraff, a psychologist took classes for women. Thanal trust also use to distribute school kits to poor children and conduct ‘School Chalo’ programmes to school drop outs. The President also said that there prevailed a political enmity between PFI and IUML because the front was responsible for the defeat of the IUML candidate in the last Panchayat election.
We visited the houses of at least four accused persons and met their near and dear. They all said that all the accused were brought from the Thanal trust building on April 23 to the police station on a promise that they would be sent back after an enquiry. Only in the evening they came to know through the media that so many serious cases are foisted against them. No such arms and bombs were seized either in the building at the time of arrest or in their houses during searches. Some of their statements:
C.P.Musa, Former teacher , Kottancherry : “My son Fahad (27) is a B.Com graduate. He owns a Travel Agency. He is also a franchise holder of Western Union Money Transfer and people living in foreign countries use to send money to their relatives for building houses through him. As a teacher I can say that he is a very good student, he is very pious, use to pray 5 times a day, fast two times a week. He is a sympathiser of PFI. The police searched my house and also my son’s travel agency. They found nothing incriminating. They took only a copy of the Holy Quran and a marriage cd from my son’s office. We came to know his arrest through the media.”
A.P.Umar, Muzhappillangadi : “My son Rickas (22) is studiying M.B.A. He is not a member of any organisation. I came to know his arrest only through the media. Some political opponents must have given false information to the police. Police came to my house but found nothing.”
C.P.Mustafa, Auto Driver, Muzhappillangadi : “My son Jamsheed (20) is a student of civil engineering. Two days back I met him in the prison. He said that one investigating officer told him that if he accepted the charge, they would give him 2 lakh rupees in cash and a new house”
M.Sanfaras, Manager in a private company in Bangalore : “My brother Rshid (22) is a +2 student. Our father is no more. They raided my house and found nothing. My brother had no connection with any organisation. My mother and other family members came to know about his arrest only through the media.
Mr. Kalyattu Surendhran, the Station Officer of the Mayyil police station denied the allegations of the relatives of the accused. He said that it was true that arms and bomb making trainings were given to the accused. When we asked him that how such clandestine activities were possible in such a crowded place and that too in an open building without window doors , he was not able to give a proper reply. When we asked him about what sort of bombs were seized from them, he said that they were giving training to make “something like bombs” and two of which were seized by them. When we asked about other incriminating materials seized he showed a register in which it was stated that a cd about ‘love jihad’ and a pamphlet on the role of Sangh Parivar in blast cases were seized . The pamphlet ‘Spoadana Bheekatrathayil Sangaparivarathinte Paghu’ was written by one Jalarudin Vazhakkad and published by Jamathe Islami. Earlier it was published as a serial in the magazine ‘Praboadhanam’. When we pointed out that these were not banned documents and were available freely in the market, he replied, “may be”.
We also met the DySP P.Sukumaran and Inspector P.Balakrishnan in the former’s office .They told that UAPA was invoked on them not for the bombs seized there, but the mind set of certain Muslims are such that these laws were to be used against them. “Kerala is a beautiful country and there is no majority / minority problem here. There is no problem with the Christian minority; however, Muslim minority are not like that” said the DySP “We have arrested them not only for bomb making. We have seized there 172 incriminating documents which necessitated the application of UAPA”, said the Inspector. But that list of 172 ‘incriminating’ documents contain only items like Indian currencies, ID cards, paper cuttings..etc. The DySP also said that he had received a complaint from the local mosque committee that the activities in that building are to be watched. But when we met a Jamath member he denied that any clandestine activities took place in that building which we have already quoted.
Our Observations : 1. The Supreme Court directions given in D.K.Basu case were not followed in these arrests. The police has lied to the court that the parents were informed about the arrests by phone whereas they came to know about it only through the media.
2. It was not at all possible that any training on the use of arms and bomb making can be imparted to the youths in such a thickly populated and open place and that too in a building without doors or the windows. Such physical and moral training classes were conducted by PFI in the same place at least for the past three years and no complaints were received by the police about any clandestine activities. When the police visited there once, they didn’t find anything. All the neighbours living around the building also deny such allegations. We also wonder what sort of arms training could have been given to at least 21 people with a single sword and a few wooden sticks. It is ridiculous to say that some freely available pamphlets and compact discs are shown as incriminating materials. Since nobody had seen the police seizing “something like bombs” in the building, we strongly believe that the bomb story is hoaxed by the police to justify their action and malign the movement.
3. We are much worried about the way in which rumours are spread against the arrested youths by the intelligence through the media. Some sixty lakhs rupees found in the account of one accused is focused as large illegal foreign money involved in this act. Actually he is involved in a travel business and holds a consultancy for admission in self financing engineering and medical colleges. He receives money from migrant labours in foreign countries to build houses through a friend of him. The police were not able to find anything illegal in that account. Few days back one newspaper has published that the Narath accused were involved in Coimbatore serial bomb blast case. All the accused are young people and most of them were school going children when Coimbatore incident took place and some of them had not even born at that time. A Kish identity card seized from one of the accused is also projected as related to some anti national activity. But having a Kish ID is a normal thing used as an intermediary pass to move to UAE for those who have no permanent visa to that country.
4. Except one of them , all other 20 young men arrested were not at all involved in any other pending cases.
5. It is very sad that Kerala police has foisted such false cases against these innocent youths at a time when there is widespread concern expressed throughout the nation on # arrests of innocent Muslim youths. Most of them had been kept in prison for so many years and then released as they were innocents. Not only their prime youthful years were lost in prison, but stigmatized of being dubbed ‘anti nationals’ because of this arrest, they are not even able to get good jobs and decent livelihood. Recently, the Supreme Court also has condemned this. The Press Council Chairperson Justice Markandeya Katju had expressed concern about spreading such false propaganda against innocent Muslim youths in the media. He has also proposed an institution known as ‘The Court of Last Resort’ to extend help and save such innocent youths languishing in Indian prisons. It is no one’s position that those who plant bombs should go unpunished. As the editor of Tehelka magazine Shoma Chaudhri has written, “do not make false arrests and breed fresh despair, triggering new cycles of hate and revenge. In the clever calculations men make about security and State, they underestimate the power of human despair. When you lose faith that a system will play fair by you, it can breed fatal recklessness. It can make you abdicate from the rules that cement human relations. Despair can turn you from citizen to perpetrator, from the hunted to the hunter. Despair can be a deadly weapon”. Even parties like CPI(M) have now raised this issue. Recently the CPI(M) leader Prakash Karat took a list of 22 Muslims to President Pranab Mukherjee and demanded the Centre to take immediate steps to help such victims of “State-led injustice”. The demands included fast-track courts; rehabilitation and compensation for those had been falsely jailed; and a review of the UAPA
Our Demands
1. We strongly believe that all the allegations against these youths are false and the fake case foisted against these innocent youths should be immediately withdrawn and those arrested should be unconditionally released. Special care should be taken to allow the students to write their examinations.
2. We cannot find any logic to evoke a draconian Act like UAPA in this case. Since nationwide concern is expressed against this Act, we demand that UAPA should be repealed immediately.
3. The case against these 21 youths was deliberately foisted with a view to harassing them and spoiling the name of PFI. With spreading rumours against these innocent youths we find them stigmatized as ‘anti nationals’, which in turn will spoil their future. It is alleged that during interrogation, the police had chosen the poorest among them and offered two lakh rupees and a new house in exchange for accepting the charges and becoming an approver. We demand a judicial enquiry in this arrest by a sitting High Court Judge. The police officers responsible for foisting this case should be punished and the innocent youths should be given compensation.
4. Kerala is the state with highest literacy rate and the political, civil rights and trade union consciousness among the people are larger when compared to other states. We humbly issue a call to the political parties, writers and other intelligentsia to condemn the indiscriminate use of draconian laws such as UAPA against innocent youths.
5. From our conversation with the higher police officials we understand that they are biased against the Muslim minority in the state. We demand that sensitisation programmes should be conducted for the revenue and police personnel on problems faced by minorities, dalits and adivasis. Also, sufficient number of officials from minority communities is to be posted in areas in which the above sections of population are in large numbers .

Address: Reny Ayline, NCHRO, 44, Hilal Homes, Abul Fazal Enclave, New Delhi – 110025. Cell: 8606337319, 9633443798.

Press Release- Release All Activists of the PFI Charged Under UAPA and Sedition Immediately and Unconditionally


COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS

185/3, FOURTH FLOOR, ZAKIR NAGAR, NEW DELHI-110025

29/04/2013

Protest Against the Criminalisation of Muslim Youth!

Scrap UAPA and All Draconian Laws!

 

 

On the 23 April 2013, around 11 in the morning, twenty one activists aged 20-25 of the Popular Front of India (PFI) were arrested from a building that was under construction at Naraath, Kannur district, Kerala. The arrest as reported in the press was done under the leadership of DySP P. Sukumaran of the Kerala police. After the 21 activists were taken away from the site of the arrest, the police claimed to have seized two country bombs, one sword and materials that can be used for making country bombs along with literature of Popular Front of India and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI). All these were displayed before the media at the site.

After the much publicised display of seizure materials before the media the police was quick to slap Sec 18 of the draconian UAPA as well as 153-B of the Sedition Act on the 21 activists. These draconian clauses were beside the sections slapped under the arms/explosives act and on unlawful assembly. The police also declared that they are looking into the ‘terror links’ of these activists. And that they will raid every office of the PFI throughout the State. Some sections of the media even went ahead to say that the possible links of these activists with the recent blast that took place near the BJP office in Bangalore is also being looked into by the police. And as this is being written the Karnataka police have already stated the possible role of SDPI in the Bangalore blast.

The first and foremost question that comes up is the haste with which the police evoked draconian laws such as UAPA and Sedition act on the activists of PFI for possessing a couple of bombs and some literature which was already in the public domain as it was distributed among the people in the campaign against the growing threat of Hindu communal fascism. This is typical of the modus operandi of all investigating agencies that enthusiastically implicate Muslim youth in every blast case or conspiracy or waging war against the state that one has witnessed in the states of UP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh etc. It is significant that the arrests and sudden evoking of the UAPA is happening in Kannur district of Kerala known for violent partisan clashes between rival political parties (be it CPM, BJP/RSS, Congress) trying desperately to gain supremacy over their adversaries. As long as it is a fight between CPM and the RSS/BJP/Bajrang Dal/VHP combine as opposing parties, the rules of the game are simple. One can hear constant appeals from the ‘civil society’ for ‘peace’ and ‘harmony’ and the need to move away from the politics of an eye for an eye. It generally becomes a discourse on violence in abstract without any critical reference to the context (socio-politico-economic) in which this is being addressed. The need to shun violence completely from politics is foregrounded against the vote bank politics indulged in by the Congress, CPM, BJP or the UDF and LDF. Beyond that there is not even any inkling of a ‘terror plot’ let alone the question of ‘waging war’ against the state. But it goes without saying that there has been no dearth of reports of capture of bombs and weapons from the office of the CPM save incidents of RSS/BJP activists dying while moving with / making bombs in the same district.

Once there has been assertion from the side of the Muslims in terms of open and militant campaigns against the growing trends of Hindu communal fascism in the State in particular and the Indian subcontinent in general, the discourse of the ‘politics of peace’ has taken a different turn. Sooner than later one is witness to the state sponsored discourse on Kerala becoming a hub of ‘Islamic terror’ and highly publicised/sensationalised arrests of youth alleged to have been involved in ‘terror plots’. Beyond that, if any such ‘plots’ ever got proved before the court of law was not of much interest for ‘literate Keralam’. The PFI neatly fits into the logic of this narrative of the imminent ‘Islamic threat’ as any such mobilisation of the minorities away from or other than the established permutation and combination of the electoral donkey in UDF and LDF will disturb the electoral applecart of the Congress, CPM or even the BJP which is yet to make its electoral presence in Kerala.

It is still vivid in our memories that when the IT Cell, of the Kerala Special Branch Police’s illegal swoop into the mails of more than 250-odd Keralites in the state (most of them Muslims) was exposed before the public, instead of taking action on the officers responsible for such incriminating acts from the investigating agencies, the police threatened their own officer who stood against such acts of impunity and arrested the lawyer who was giving legal advice to the conscientious officer. The media house that carried the story was threatened and the leading journalist who published the story was not spared.

The timing of such sensationalised arrests and the spawning of speculation of a larger plot with the entry of the Karnataka police and reports in the media of the ‘involvement’ of the SDPI in the Bangalore bomb blast before the BJP office all indicate the same old game plan of an increasingly criminalised and communalised police and investigating agencies of India. As we have time and again mentioned the UAPA sanctions the perception of the reality as authentic not the reality itself. So for a motivated (on communal lines) police officer to quickly assume that the youth arrested from the building in Naraath can’t be but a ‘terrorist’ or can only think and act in an ‘unlawful’ manner or are capable of ‘waging war against the state’ fits perfectly with the ideology of the perception as reality and hence the arrests and knee jerk reaction of slapping UAPA and charges of sedition on the twenty one of them. A considerable section of the media which hatches such spurious stories only mystifies the perceptive reality and does not make any responsible effort to disentangle the often muddled versions of the investigating agencies and the police covering up their acts of impunity under the garb of the so-called ‘war against terror’.

It is high time that the UAPA and all such anti-people, draconian laws which criminalise all forms of dissent/political expression of the vast sections of the people be scrapped forthwith. We at the CRPP strongly condemn such motivated arrests of activists of people’s movements and stand for their right to freedom of expression and dissent. Since the motivation to slap charges of UAPA and Sedition on the PFI activists is political it becomes important to demand the unconditional release of all the activists as to expect a ‘fair’ trial for them would be live in a mystified world. The CRPP calls upon all the freedom loving and democratic people of the subcontinent to join hands to defeat these criminal, communal and fascist designs of the Indian state and its counterpart in the UDF-led Kerala government.

In Solidarity,

SAR Geelani

President

 

Amit Bhattacharyya

Secretary General

 

MN Ravunni

Vice President

 

P Koya

Vice President

 

Rona Wilson

Secretary, Public Relations

 

Condemn the spate of arrests in Kerala under the UAPA! Demand unconditional release


Joint statement issued by intellectuals and human rights activists against the arrests being conducted under the guise of Maoist hunt

Condemn the spate of arrests in Kerala under the UAPA! Demand the immediate, unconditional release of arrested activists!

On 15 February 2013, CK Gopalan, a former State Council member of the Porattam organization, was picked up and arrested from Wayanad by the Kerala police on the charge that he possessed posters and notice printed to commemorate the Comrade Verghese Martyrdom Day.

For the last 42 years, several Marxist- Leninist groups including Porattam, and other mass organizations have observed Comrade Verghese Martyrdom Day in memory of a leader who was shot point-blank by the police during an anti-Naxalite operation. Although Porattam had police permission to observe this day, C.K.Gopalan was arrested and charged under sec.153(b) of I.P.C. It is learned that procedure to book him under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is in progress. Another three activists, Shanto Lal, Vinod and Usman were also picked up from Mananthavadi and also charged under s.39(1) a(1)of UAPA on the allegation that these activists were campaigning for furthering the activities of CPI(maoist).These three detenues are members of porattam and they werearrestted while protesting against the sudden ban of there com.varghese martyrdom day public meeting.

Another activist Ismail was arrested from Malappuram on 20 February 2013.He was taken to Kozhikode and after hours long interrogation he was released. Swapnesh Babu, an artist who works withNjattuvela, a cultural organisation was arrested on 21 February 2013. This has been the latest arrest so far. He is also charged under s.39(1)a(1) of UAPA and s.153(b)of IPC.

We also like to point out that Porattam, the mass organization whose members have been subjected to arrrest from various parts of the state, is not even a banned organization in Kerala, or any part of India. All these arrests under the UAPA seem to have been primarily made with the aim of creating a Maoism scare in the state.

Recently, on 29 December 2012, the Kerala police arrested seven activists from a lodge in Mavellikkara on the allegation that they were Maoists. Those detained for suspected Maoist links also included two children who were subsequently released. The other five, including a well-known civil liberties activist Scientist Gopal, are now lodged in prisons in Kerala and cases have been framed under the UAPA in their case too.

These arbitrary and baseless arrests cannot be dismissed as mere diversionary tactics of the state machinery. One has to understand this in the context of Operation Green Hunt. The global war on terror is the military movement of globalization, and in this framework, Wayanad in Kerala is strategically important. These arrests are a pre-emptive action to quell any future dissent in Wayanad where several big projects like the aerodram,cricket stadium,and private medical college, have been planned and where there could be widespread eviction of people from that region.

The usage of a draconian law like the UAPA to silence dissent, to deny the freedom of expression, to victimize members of leftist organizations, and to threaten people’s movements deserves to be condemned. We, the undersigned rights activists, writers, artists, and others, condemn these arbitrary arrests under the UAPA and request the police to immediately and unconditionally release the arrested activists and drop all the charges against them.

K Satchidanandan
Anand Patwardhan
Meena Kandasamy
A Vasu
J Devika
B R P Bhaskar
Kamayani Bali Mahabal
K P Sethunath
C S Murali
P A Pouran
Thushar Nirmal Sarathy

#India -Arrests at Mavelikkara: Against UAPA, For the right to dissent #blacklaws


by Gilbert Sebastian , Facebook

There is a saying in Malayalam, ‘Kaaryam paranjaal Communistaayi!’ meaning, you will be labelled a Communist if you tell the truth. This used to be a saying during the decades when the Communist party in the state used to wage land struggles and uphold the rights of the deprived. Today, the saying could be modified as, Kaaryamparanjaal Maoistaayi!’ meaning, you will be labelled a Maoist if you tell the truth.

 

On 29 December 2012, seven persons persons, including two girl children and human rights activists were arrested at Mavelikkara in Kerala state. The other five are being detained under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA): Gopal, Shiaz, Rajesh Madhavan, Bahuleyan and Devarajan. As was reported in the social media and mainstream media, they had assembled peacefully for sharing their experiences. The two girls were Ami aged 16 and Savera aged 10 who have been harassed by the police several times even before for the mere reason that they are children of a Maoist couple. After night-long interrogation using even sexually insulting language, the two girls were let off. The other five are still in custody. Rajesh Madhavan was personally known to me for some years now as a socially concerned person, hailing from a humble background. As I have gathered from friends, they were meeting to share experiences, including those on the education front. None of the persons arrested had any previous history of offences against them. One of them, Gopal, is a scientist who was working with Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and is a human rights activist  who has been involved in the protest against Koodankulam nuclear project.

 

The arrests are clearly in violation of the Fundamental Right “to assemble peaceably and without arms” under Article 19 (1) (b). There is no reason why one should be paranoid about such get-togethers to discuss contemporary political issues that they could cause a threat. Why shouldn’t we think that they could only strengthen democracy? (The latest news is that the Additional Sub-Inspector, K.Y. Damian who had carried out the arrests, apparently, hanged himself to death near his home.) Going by UAPA, the State can arbitrarily arrest and detain anyone on the basis of mere suspicion. UAPA which is the UPA version of the now-defunct Acts, POTA and TADA, is used to track down people labeling them as Maoists and as Dalit and Muslim extremists. Those who oppose State terror and those involved in rights-based struggles are tormented and unjustly detained under this Act. It has draco­nian provisions such as non-bailable incarceration for 180 days. The onus of proof lies on the accused. Section 15 of the act defines ‘terrorist act’ quite vaguely. Section 39 makes “support given to a terrorist organization” an offence and criminalises normal activities like ‘arranging, managing or addressing’ public meetings. Hardly any distinction per se is drawn between anti-State militancy and terrorism as indiscriminate killing of innocent people.

 

On the other hand, one cannot forget to mention that the Indian State is ‘selectively repressive’ against adversaries who violate its canons. Those who create communal and regional divisions among people like the Sangh Parivar, Shiv Sena, MNS and the high profile instigators of riots in Delhi, 1984; Gujarat 2002 and Kandhamal, 2008  are granted impunity. The arrests at Mavelikkara is a good example to illustrate how our political system faces the real danger of degeneration into an ‘illiberal democracy’/a police State. Recent empowering judgements by the Supreme Court in cases involving Binayak Sen and Narayan Sanyal indicate how the apex court views such arrests unjustified under the law.

 

As Prof. Haragopal rightly used to say, the vibrancy of democracy can be demonstrated when the State is able to democratically reckon with even armed protests against it. Constitutional morality is the minimum that the State needs to uphold since the Constitution is the document that the rulers of India have given unto themselves and swear by. On the other hand, the rebels need to be true to their own ideology. People should be the arbiters in the contention between Constitutional morality and an ideology of rebellion, he says. It is necessary that all democratically minded persons and groups should come forward to oppose UAPA, a draconian, fascistic Act and the arrest of these activists under it, towards the protection of the democratic freedoms guaranteed under the Fundamental Rights of the Constitution of India. On 7 January 2013, some concerned individuals called a gathering at the martyrs column in Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital to protest these arrests under UAPA. The message is: Uphold the right to dissent! Protest the arrests! Oppose UAPA!

#India- arrests at Mavelikkara: Against UAPA, For the right to dissent #Draconianlaws


by Gilbert Sebastian on Monday, 7 January 2013 , on FB

There is a saying in Malayalam, ‘Kaaryam paranjaal Communistaayi!’ meaning, you will be labelled a Communist if you tell the truth. This used to be a saying during the decades when the Communist party in the state used to wage land struggles and uphold the rights of the deprived. Today, the saying could be modified as, Kaaryam paranjaal Maoistaayi!’ meaning, you will be labelled a Maoist if you tell the truth.

 

On 29 December 2012, seven persons persons, including two girl children and human rights activists were arrested at Mavelikkara in Kerala state. The other five are being detained under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA): Gopal, Shiaz, Rajesh Madhavan, Bahuleyan and Devarajan. As was reported in the social media and mainstream media, they had assembled peacefully for sharing their experiences. The two girls were Ami aged 16 and Savera aged 10 who have been harassed by the police several times even before for the mere reason that they are children of a Maoist couple. After night-long interrogation using even sexually insulting language, the two girls were let off. The other five are still in custody. Rajesh Madhavan was personally known to me for some years now as a socially concerned person, hailing from a humble background. As I have gathered from friends, they were meeting to share experiences, including those on the education front. None of the persons arrested had any previous history of offences against them. One of them, Gopal, is a scientist who was working with Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and is a human rights activist  who has been involved in the protest against Koodankulam nuclear project.

 

The arrests are clearly in violation of the Fundamental Right to assemble peaceably and without arms under Article 19 (b). There is no reason why one should be paranoid about such get-togethers to discuss contemporary political issues that they could cause a threat. Why shouldn’t we think that they could only strengthen democracy? (The latest news is that the Additional Sub-Inspector, K.Y. Damian who had carried out the arrests, apparently, hanged himself to death near his home.) Going by UAPA, the State can arbitrarily arrest and detain anyone on the basis of mere suspicion. UAPA which is the UPA version of the now-defunct Acts, POTA and TADA, is used to track down people labeling them as Maoists and as Dalit and Muslim extremists. Those who oppose State terror and those involved in rights-based struggles are tormented and unjustly detained under this Act. It has draco­nian provisions such as non-bailable incarceration for 180 days. The onus of proof lies on the accused. Section 15 of the act defines ‘terrorist act’ quite vaguely. Section 39 makes “support given to a terrorist organization” an offence and criminalises normal activities like ‘arranging, managing or addressing’ public meetings. Hardly any distinction per se is drawn between anti-State militancy and terrorism as indiscriminate killing of innocent people.

 

On the other hand, one cannot forget to mention that the Indian State is ‘selectively repressive’ against adversaries who violate its canons. Those who create communal and regional divisions among people like the Sangh Parivar, Shiv Sena, MNS and the high profile instigators of riots in Delhi, 1984; Gujarat 2002 and Kandhamal, 2008  are granted impunity. The arrests at Mavelikkara is a good example to illustrate how our political system faces the real danger of degeneration into an ‘illiberal democracy’/a police State. Recent empowering judgements by the Supreme Court in cases involving Binayak Sen and Narayan Sanyal indicate how the apex court views such arrests unjustified under the law.

 

As Prof. Haragopal rightly used to say, the vibrancy of democracy can be demonstrated when the State is able to democratically reckon with even armed protests against it. Constitutional morality is the minimum that the State needs to uphold since the Constitution is the document that the rulers of India have given unto themselves and swear by. On the other hand, the rebels need to be true to their own ideology. People should be the arbiters in the contention between Constitutional morality and an ideology of rebellion, he says. It is necessary that all democratically minded persons and groups should come forward to oppose UAPA, a draconian, fascistic Act and the arrest of these activists under it, towards the protection of the democratic freedoms guaranteed under the Fundamental Rights of the Constitution of India. On 7 January 2013, some concerned individuals called a gathering at the martyrs column in Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital to protest these arrests under UAPA. The message is: Uphold the right to dissent! Protest the arrests! Oppose UAPA!

 

 

#India -Reject Amendments to Counter terrorism Law


The Terror of Law
December 14, 2012, HumanRights Watch

While India has a responsibility to protect citizens from terror attacks, the counterterrorism law has long been abused to detain suspects for excessive periods, file charges on fabricated evidence, and ban organizations without due process of law. These amendments will make the law an even more dangerous tool in the hands of officials who seek to oppress peaceful critics and minority communities.

(New York) – The Indian parliament should reject proposed amendments to India’s counterterrorism act that could lead to further misuse of the draconian law, Human Rights Watch said today. Parliament should call on the government to withdraw the amendments to the, which is scheduled for a vote in India’s upper house, the Rajya Sabha, on December 17, 2012.

On November 30, the lower house of the Indian parliament passed the amendments to the UAPA, India’s principal federal counterterrorism law, without significant input or scrutiny from the general public or civil society organizations. The amendments would allow the government broad leeway to increase bans on proscribed organizations to five years and widen the definition of a person to any association of individuals.

“While India has a responsibility to protect citizens from terror attacks, the counterterrorism law has long been abused to detain suspects for excessive periods, file charges on fabricated evidence, and ban organizations without due process of law,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “These amendments will make the law an even more dangerous tool in the hands of officials who seek to oppress peaceful critics and minority communities.”

The UAPA and counterterrorism laws preceding it have been widely misused to target political opponents, tribal groups, religious and ethnic minorities, and Dalits, Human Rights Watch said. For instance, state police have used the UAPA bans on groups to round up the same suspects after every terrorist attack simply because they had been previously charged – but not convicted – of membership in an unlawful organization.

The proposed amendments expand the definition of the “person” who can be charged under the law to include “an association of persons or a body of individuals, whether incorporated or not.” Human Rights Watch expressed concern that this would allow the police to charge an individual merely on the grounds of contact with a suspect.

The amendment increasing the period for which an association can be declared as unlawful from two years to five years will allow the authorities to ban for a longer period an organization it opposes, even though the organization has not been found unlawful by a court.

“Extending the ban on groups from two to five years without a court determination is a recipe for abuse,” Ganguly said. “The police and investigating agencies could arrest people for being part of a banned organization even though a court never found it to be involved in terrorism.”

The amendments also expand the definition of “terrorist act” to include acts that threaten the economic security of India and damage its monetary stability by production, smuggling, or circulation of “high quality” counterfeit currency. These crimes are not recognized terrorism offenses and are already covered by the Indian Penal Code. Including them under a more stringent counterterrorism law seems intended to make obtaining bail more difficult and to allow for a longer pre-charge detention period, Human Rights Watch said.

The bill would also enlarge the scope of punishment for raising funds to commit a terrorist act or for the benefit of terrorists irrespective of whether they have actually been used to commit a terrorist act. As long as one had knowledge that “such funds are likely to be used, in full or in part by such person or persons or by a terrorist organisation or by a terrorist gang or by an individual terrorist to commit a terrorist act,” that person is culpable.
When opposition members called for a more thorough discussion of the amendments, India’s home minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde, told parliament that the government would never allow the misuse of the law and that the amendments would bring clarity to the exiting framework and remove deficiencies.
“The government’s claim that the law won’t be misused disregards the recent history of abuse of counterterror laws that have left suspects languishing in jail for years before being acquitted for lack of evidence,” Ganguly said. “Bad laws not only violate international human rights standards, but are counterproductive because abuses are used as a recruiting tool by extremist groups.”

In 2008, following an attack in Mumbai, the government amended the UAPA by borrowing from earlier counterterrorism legislation that had been allowed to lapse or been repealed because they had led to serious rights violations. These laws ­– the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act 1985 (TADA) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2002 (POTA) – had enabled serious human rights violations by government forces during counterterrorism operations.

The 2008 UAPA amendments also increased the risk of arbitrary detention, custodial abuse, and violation of basic due process rights by allowing courts to double the maximum period of

detention without charge for terrorism suspects. A judge can now extend pre-charge detention from the 90 days allowed under the Indian criminal code to 180 days upon a vaguely defined special request from a prosecutor. The law also doubles the maximum period of police custody from the 15 days allowed under the Indian criminal code to 30 days.

Following the passage of amendments in 2008, Human Rights Watch wrote a detailed report discussing the problematic provisions and offering recommendations to the Indian government to prevent abuses. Human Rights Watch called on the Indian government to revise the definition of terrorism and ensure that restrictions on organizations respect the right to freedom of association under international law. Human Rights Watch also urged the repeal of provisions such as those authorizing pre-charge detention for up to 180 days, limitations on bail, presumption of guilt in certain circumstances, and overly broad search, seizure, and arrest.

“It is sad that efforts by civil society groups to repeal or amend abusive laws such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act get ignored by the government,” said Ganguly. “Yet, when it comes to enacting new laws likely to cause further abuse, the government forces them through without any serious public discussion, at the expense of due process, justice, and India’s global image.”

#India- (UAPA) Draconian Law against liberty-quietly amended #Loksabha


From The Indian Express:

The Lok Sabha has quietly amended the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, a dangerous tool in the hands of any government

When two young women were arrested for a Facebook post questioning the shutdown in Mumbai for Bal Thackeray’s funeral, middle-class fury forced the Maharashtra government to drop the case and suspend two police officers.The Centre also issued a set of guidelines to avoid misuse of the controversial Section 66A of the Information Technology Act. However, even as calls for repeal of the “vague” and “wide” provisions of the IT law that are “susceptible to wanton abuse” grew louder, the government silently pushed through much more controversial amendments to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in the Lok Sabha, making it further mirror previous draconian laws like POTA and TADA.

The amendments did not merely make this law more stringent; they have made law enforcement agencies less accountable, despite substantial proof of misuse. The government had, in fact, brought in several amendments to give “anti-terror teeth” to the UAPA coinciding with the repeal of POTA in 2004, and more stringent amendments were pushed through in the backdrop of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The vast scope for the misuse of the amendments to the UAPA has been articulated in the recent citizens’ appeal to members of the Rajya Sabha, issued by the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (JTSA), which has been endorsed by several senior civil rights groups, scholars and activists. The appeal has questioned five aspects of the amended law.

The broad definition of person, especially as “an association of persons or a body of individuals, whether incorporated or not” is open to misuse because “this will actually allow agencies and government to create persons beyond that what are recognised by law and any group of friends/ acquaintances can be labelled an association of persons or a body of individuals by the agencies and the government” like a “book reading club to friends who meet every evening at a dhaba may be deemed to be an association of persons or a body of individuals”.

Another major amendment to the law has been to include economic offences within the larger definition of a “terrorist act”. There are two aspects of this amendment that have raised questions. The criminalisation of “production, distribution of high-quality counterfeit currency” is “repetitive” and are already “covered by the equivalent sections 489B, 489C, 489D in the IPC”. The civil rights activists question this amendment, arguing that “when comparable provisions in IPC and terror laws are available for same crimes, the police exercise the option of booking an accused under the terror law because it affords them greater leverage: bail provisions are much more stringent and the accused can be kept in custody for long periods (up to 180 days) without the filing of a chargesheet”.

Another amendment broadens the scope of action against fund raising for “terror activities”. Now, the raising of funds likely to be used (in full or in part) to commit a terrorist act or for the benefit of terrorists shall be punishable irrespective of whether the funds have been raised from legitimate or illegitimate sources. This is irrespective of whether such funds were actually used to commit a terror act or not. And it is punishable for a term not less than five years, but extendable to life.

The only safeguard is the condition that the accused should know that “such funds are likely to be used… by a terrorist organisation”. The civil rights activists apprehend that this amendment will “practically bring under the possibility of prosecution all transactions, even perfectly legitimate ones, without any remote connection to a terrorist act” because “all that the prosecution needs to show is that the accused had knowledge that such funds could be likely used for terrorist act. While such subjective knowledge may again be difficult to prove, it will no doubt result in the incarceration of accused for long periods without bail”.

While the introduction of several new changes has already made the UAPA exceptionally harsh, the amendment of Section 6 of the law has taken away the little hope for judicial scrutiny to prevent its misuse.

The ban on an organisation under the UAPA, which was earlier limited to a two-year period, has been extended to a five-year period. This means that the government has avoided putting its decision to ban an organisation under the UAPA through the scrutiny of a tribunal headed by a sitting judge of the High Court. For example, the tribunal hearing the ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) did not only look into the legality of the government’s decision, but it also helped to record and raise the issue of fabricated evidence in individual cases across states. The government’s logic, that extending the ban to five years is to lower the costs to administer the ban, is flawed because the delay in such a judicial scrutiny would make law enforcement less accountable.

There is enough evidence that scores of young Muslim men were branded members of the banned SIMI and arrested. The terror tag was enough to create an atmosphere of public revulsion and they were guilty till proven innocent. There are cases where these men were unable to manage a lawyer who would defend them because several bar associations had banned their members from representing these “terror suspects”. There are examples where verses of the Quran, religious books and even Urdu literature were shown as incriminating material. There were instances where young men were arrested for “shouting slogans against the government” because they were “angry about the demolition of Babri mosque or Gujarat riots”.

Under the normal procedure of criminal law, these acts would have been inconsequential. But once the police branded them as members of the banned SIMI, it automatically invoked the provisions of the UAPA, magnifying the seriousness of the charges. And even once these men win long and tiring battles in courts and are acquitted after years of imprisonment, the terror taint stays, making it extremely difficult to pick up the pieces of their lives and start afresh.

To understand as to why these stringent amendments to the UAPA are especially dangerous, we need to return to the debate in Parliament when this law was enacted, in 1967. Atal Bihari Vajpayee had called this law a “donkey that had been made to look like a horse” while George Fernandes had “moved an amendment that the period of ban be reduced to one year”. While opposing the UAPA bill, noted parliamentarian Nath Pai had termed it “a measure introduced by a group of men who have lost faith in the people of India”. Nath Pai had addressed the then home minister Y.B. Chavan and asked, “Will the baton of the police be the final guardian of the liberties, freedom and unity of this country? Can we trust the police to be the only fighter for the delicate fabric of our democracy?” Piloo Mody, who represented Godhra in the Lok Sabha, had said that he was “ashamed of the government”. J.B. Kripalani, who had been chairman of the Fundamental Rights sub- committee, had said that “all these repressive laws violate the rule of law”. He had termed the UAPA “superfluous”, one that “may be used by the executive for purposes for which it is not intended”. He had said that he did not question the intentions of the government. “Their intentions are good but it is like putting a sword in the hands of Hanuman. Hanuman may not like to kill, but somehow the sword kills”.

This time, the passage of amendments to the UAPA in the Lok Sabha happened amid the din of a debate over FDI in retail. Unlike the larger consensus over the need to preserve the freedoms on Facebook, there isn’t even a public debate over the UAPA and its misuse, because, in the dominant public discourse, its victims are deemed guilty till proven innocent.

muzamil.jaleel@expressindia.com

PLease click here for critique of draconian laws

http://kractivist.wordpress.com/draconian-laws/

 

#India-Journalists report the police version of crime: Seema Azad


|October 21, 2012

Do journalists question enough, asks Seema Azad, ‘Dastak’ editor who was charged under the UAPA in this interview with SHOBHA S V [Courtesy: THE HOOT]

Seema Azad

37-year old Seema Azad’s calm demeanour belies the trauma that she’s had to undergo. Azad, editor of ‘Dastak’ magazine and organising secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) was arrested in February 2010 in Allahabad along with her husband Vishwa Vijayon charges of sedition and UAPA. Vishwavijay has been a student union leader and activist of Inquilabi Chhaatra Morcha.

The duo were arrested shortly after Seema wrote against Ganga Expressway Plan, a project that would have displaced many farmers and also highlighted arbitrary arrests of Muslim youth by the Special Task Force in Azamgarh.

After a prolonged fight that stretched for two and a half years, the Allahabad High Court finally granted bail to the duo on 5thAugust, 2012. They have appealed against the conviction. Azad and her husband were in Mumbai recently to speak in a public meeting demanding for release of social activist SudhirDhawale, who has been in jail on charges of sedition.

Seema spoke out strongly against sedition and laws that curbed dissent and deplored the failure of mainstream media to question police charges against fellow journalists and activists. She also said the publication of ‘Dastak’ was suspended when she and her husband were in jail, but it will come out again from January, 2013.

Can you tell us what happened when you were picked up in February 2010?

I was coming back from Delhi after attending the National Book fair and a group of plainclothesmen literally grabbed my husband and me and put us in a vehicle. I wouldn’t say we were arrested. We were kidnapped. There was no warrant issued at all.

Why do you think you were arrested?

During questioning, the police kept asking us about my articles in my magazine ‘Dastak’ including Operation Green Hunt, Ganga Expressway Plan that would have affected many farmers’ livelihood and about my article on Muslim youth in Azamgarh who were being harassed by the police. I was branded a Maoist because I wrote against the Government on these issues.

Can you describe your experience in the jail?

It was very depressing initially. For the first day or two, I couldn’t talk to anyone. I slowly started opening up. Resistance builds up only gradually. My experience in prison made me open my eyes to a reality that I would never have had an opportunity to experience otherwise. Prisoners also have rights, which are consistently violated all the time. I remember wanting to read a newspaper every day. It seems like a simple thing except that it was not. I had to fight for it with the superintendent, jailor, warden and may others. Finally, when the Chief Judicial Magistrate had come for a programme in the prison, I insisted very strongly that I need a newspaper. It was only after his intervention that they started giving newspapers to read. My family really helped me during this time. Whenever they would come to meet me, they would bring along with them, a big set of newspapers, magazines and some books for me to catch up with my reading. I also found that the jail library is in a very bad shape. I could hardly use it. In my prison, I was the first woman who was accused of being a Maoist.

Since I was an under-trial, physical work was not mandatory for me. However, they kept asking me for bribes. I resolutely refused to pay them anything. I received feelers that I should either pay up or I should work. I clearly told them that I wouldn’t mind working but refused to pay bribes. However, they did not bother me after that. I think it was because I was educated, that things were relatively better for me than someone who is non literate.

The jail officials would ask for money in order to facilitate meeting with my family members. I ended up spending lot of time with the children of the female prisoners. I also taught two women how to read.

What kind of support did you receive from the journalist community?

Mainstream media kept writing from the point of view of the police. When I was arrested, I did not get any support from mainstream media and journalists at all. I have been working as a journalist for the past eight years now. Apart from bringing out a bi-monthly magazine, I have also written for a mainstream publication, Sahara Samay for three years now. Yet, when I was arrested, there was not a single word from any mainstream media journalist. It was very disappointing.

What do you think ails journalism today?

Journalists only end up writing the police version of any crime. The accused person’s version is seldom published. Rarely is any attempt made to contact the accused person’s lawyer or family for their statement. This is a very sorry state of affairs. The level of ignorance amongst journalists about laws is appalling. When I finally got bail two months ago, we had arranged for a press conference about black laws. So many journalists did not know about Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) or Unlawful Activities Prevention Act(UAPA). I had to explain what AFSPA is all about. However, just as corporate media in India is spreading everywhere, I also see many instances of independent media. There are many small publications which are doing good work. I also see hope in online media. When I was arrested, I remember my brother pointing out to many websites, blogs writing about me and the black laws that exist in our country.

Now that you are out on bail, what how do you plan to continue your fight?
I am very happy going around different parts of the country talking about black laws like sedition and UAPA. I am also working on bringing out my magazine ‘Dastak’ once again. It was stopped when I was in jail. The next edition will come out in January 2013.

I express my solidarity with the people of Koodankulam. 7000 people have been slapped with sedition! Section 124 (sedition) has become a joke. The prevailing atmosphere is such that the state wants to intimidate everyone who wants to critique and challenge government policies of development. If the government thinks that they will frighten people in this way, I can tell you from my experience that they are sorely mistaken. I have become even more rebellious after my arrest and subsequent stay in jail. I am going to continue my fight for what I believe in.

 

This war against our own people-Report of All India Rally and Dharna


 

CDRO – Report of All India Rally and Dharna

October 7, 2012

COORDINATION OF DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS ORGANISATIONS (CDRO)

Out of 640 district of India, 101 are reeling under Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA). This war against our own people has thrown up social and ethnic divides whose tragic consequences can be seen in the current bloodletting in Assam and the exodus of people from North East out of Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad, etc.

We are also alarmed at the indifference shown towards uncovering of mass graves in Kashmir which may hold the key to solve the mystery of 8-10,000 victims of enforced disappearance. Accordingly, Coordination of Democratic Rights organisations (CDRO), as an association of civil rights and democratic rights organizations, gave a call for a Rally and Dharna on on 7th September, 2012 in Delhi.

The objective of this call was to protest against escalated forms of violence and repression that various sections of people within the country are being subjected to. Click this link for a report from the Dharna; an excerpt of this report is shown below.

The course of democracy in India is increasingly witnessing a violent assault not just on people’s rights but the very existence of people who dare to stand and act in negation of the status quo. The current year has been replete with mass violations of civil and democratic rights of people. The brutal and prejudiced side of the state is obvious in its “arrest or kill” policy towards those resisting corporate take-over of their land, forest and water in the name of counter Maoist offensives (such as killing of 17 adivasis in Bijapur district of Chattisgarh). Equally evident is the state-corporate partnership exploiting peoples’ resources in the name of industrial development. The conscious attempt of the state to target vulnerable sections of society, to ‘construct’ them as criminals is visible in numerous cases of Muslim youths being falsely implicated in terrorist cases by Anti-Terrorist Squads of different state governments. There have been increasing instances of sexual assault on women by paramilitary forces. Incidents of violence against and social boycott of Dalits as a repercussion of their assertion of legitimate rights are escalating. Physical attacks on social activists for raising genuine concerns against the fatal consequences of state policies that pass under the rhetoric of development, together with a massive and shameful deployment of draconian laws such as sedition and UAPA are being used against civil and democratic rights activists to silence their voices. Out of 640 district of India, 101 are reeling under Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) and in another 37 districts we find similar conditions. This war against our own people has thrown up social and ethnic divides whose tragic consequences can be seen in the current bloodletting in Assam and the exodus of people from North East out of Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad etc. We are also alarmed at the indifference shown towards uncovering of mass graves in Kashmir which may hold the key to solve the mystery of 8-10,000 victims of enforced disappearance.

Delhi Police, which directly operates under the Central Government, did not give the required permission for rally till the last day in the name of maintaining law and order. However, nearly 500 people from various states of India came for this programme to vent their anger against suppressing democratic dissent. Most of the people who had come from various states such as Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Assam, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, etc, for this programme were part of the democratic and civil liberty organisations. Many others were victims of the repressive laws such as UAPA, Sedition etc. They all had come armed with posters, banners and other campaign materials expressing the violation of democratic rights in their states. These posters and banners were put up at the dharna site and slogans were raised to highlight the repressive and undemocratic role of central and various state governments in response of the genuine and democratic demands of the toiling masses such as farmers, workers, Adivasis, minorities, etc.

 

The posters that landed retired SIMI secy in jail #draconianlaws #ban


 

Muzamil Jaleel : New Delhi, Fri Sep 28 2012, 03:41 hrs

Cases registered 12 years ago — before SIMI was even banned — on flimsy charges and an investigation that has been rapped for loopholes left Munir Deshmukh a wanted man for years and have kept him in jail for the past 21 months. Once the SIMI national secretary, Deshmukh retired from the organisation in February 2001, seven months before it was banned.

OCTOBER 22, 2000

It was 11 months before the first ban on SIMI in September 2001 that Deshmukh had the first FIRs filed against him in two police stations in Bhopal the same day. Both FIRs related to exactly the same “incriminating” evidence — a SIMI poster.

The Taliyya police station registered an FIR that said a poster with “Students Islamic Movement of India (West) MP” written in English on it had been found pasted near Kulsum Bi’s mosque, near Budhwara, Bhopal. No individual was named. Subsequently, police alleged that posters similar to the one pasted near the mosque had been seized from Deshmukh and five other accused: Sorab Ahmed, Maulana Arsad, Abdul Razzaq, Mohd Alim and Kashlid Naim.

The seizure memo stated that on October 25, three days after the FIR, police seized five posters and 10 pamphlets from “under the bed of Munir Deshmukh” at his house, A-47, Shahpur, Habibganj, Bhopal.

The poster had “Pasbode na bano, sulah ki darkhwasth na karo, tum hi Ghalib rahoge, Navede Sehar conference 10, 11, 12 November 2000 Mukam Wadi e sehar, Dragaah Maidan ke Pas, Khajra, Indore, also written in English. The pamphlet had “Indore Chalo, Indore Chalo in bold letters”, said the FIR.

The writing the police found incriminating is actually from Verse 35 of Surah Mohammad of the Quran. The conference was primarily a religious congregation. In fact, the poster had the address and phone number of the organisers on it.

The chargesheet was filed five years later, on July 13, 2005, against the six accused under various sections of the IPC and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The second FIR against Deshmukh was registered at the Shahjahanabad police station in Bhopal. Deshmukh was again charged along with the same five other accused for a similar SIMI poster, this time near Murgi Wali Masjid in Shahjahanabad.

The police claimed to have raided Deshmukh’s house on October 23, 2000, which was two days before the raid on his house in the earlier case. The seizure memo stated the police recovered 14 posters with the Quranic verse “pasbode na bano…”, 20 pamphlets that had “Students Islamic Movement of India, MP” and “Indore chalo” written on them, and a June 2000 edition of Tehreek magazine.

The chargesheet against the six was filed on December 6 that year for “promoting communal disharmony and committing acts detrimental to national integration”.

It was never explained how the same set of posters seized on October 23, 2010, from Deskhmukh’s house turned up again at his residence two days later. And not just at his house but at those of the five other accused too.

SEPTEMBER 27, 2001

The day SIMI was banned, a third FIR was registered against Deshmukh, at the Habibganj police station in Bhopal under the UAPA. Inspector Girish Bore stated that he was tipped off about “SIMI activist” Munir Deshmukh “running activities from his residence”. A team raided Deshmukh’s house in the presence of two witnesses, Akhilesh Jain and Naval Singh, but didn’t find him. The FIR said that he had absconded “with the document and the campaigning material”. The chargesheet was filed on December 24, 2002. Apart from the UAPA, Deshmukh was booked under IPC sections 153 B (committing acts detrimental to national integration) and 295 A (outraging the feelings of a religious group).

According to advocate Sajid Ali of Bhopal, yet another FIR was filed in Habibgunj in 2001 against Deshmukh under the Prevention of Corruption Act, accusing him of having assets disproportionate to his sources of income. He said judge R P S Chouhan acquitted Deshmukh in that case earlier this week.

DECEMBER 11, 2010

In December 2010 — 10 years after the police first filed an FIR against him and nine years after they said he was absconding — Deshmukh was arrested. After his arrest, Deshmukh, who had been living in Hyderabad where he ran an IT firm, had another case slapped against him in Andhra Pradesh, this time for impersonation, for having documents stating his name as “Munir Ahmad”.

THE CASES IN COURT

* In the first case registered at Taliyya police station, first class judicial magistrate Rama Jayant Mittal acquitted Deshmukh and the other accused on July 10 this year.

* In the second identical poster case, first class judicial magistrate Varsha Sharma sentenced Deshmukh and the others to three years of rigorous imprisonment on August 3, 2011, for creating “unpleasantness between Hindus and Muslim community’’ after eight years of trial.

During the trial, one of the witnesses said he “does not recognise the accused”, a second witness said the police made him sign documents but didn’t know whether the documents were “blank or filled up” and a third witness said he didn’t know anything about the incident.. An appeal has been filed against the judgment.

* Ruling in the third case on October 22, 2011, R P Sonkar, additional CJM and special judge, Bhopal, threw out the charges under the UAPA but convicted Deshmukh and the others under Sections 153 B and 295 A of the IPC, holding them “guilty of committing acts detrimental to national integration and outraging the feelings of a religious group”. They have gone into appeal against this order too.

Judge Sonkar’s court held that there were evident gaps in the version of the prosecution – the original seizure memo and case diary had gone missing/were “misplaced” and most of the evidence that was filed before the judge was in the form of illegible photocopies. The prosecution had claimed that the written statements of key witnesses had been enclosed in the missing case diary. One of the witnesses, incidentally, turned hostile during the trial and denied the prosecution’s version.

The order noted that the officer who granted sanction for prosecution in the case under the UAPA, Alok Ranjan, MP’s secretary (home), had said during cross-examination that “he was not aware when he granted the sanction” and that “at the time of granting the sanction he had no knowledge about statements of which witnesses were enclosed”.

The judge also remarked that Ranjan was junior in rank to that prescribed under the UAPA for clearing prosecution. Deshmukh was charged under Sections 10 & 13 of the UAPA, which needed sanction from the Centre.

Deshmukh’s Bhopal-based lawyer Parvez Alam accuses the government and courts of ignoring rules.“According to sections 45 and 42 of the UAPA, the state government does not have the power to issue the sanction. Then again according to section 45 of the UAPA, the court cannot take cognisance of charges without the sanction of appropriate authorities. The home secretary is giving sanction for prosecution under all sections when he can do so only under sections 7 and 8. The courts accepted that,” Alam said.

He said police are missing deadlines for filing chargesheets; on occasions they took five years. “In a case under section 153A and B of IPC (promoting communal disharmony and acts detrimental to national integration), if the chargesheet is filed after three years, the court cannot take cognisance.”

About the loss of the case files, he said the court had asked the DGP to register a case within six months against those involved in misplacing the original file but police didn’t do anything.

Deshmukh had four case in Indore and one in Ujjain against him, Alam said, adding he got bail in the Ujjain one last week