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.

KKM couple court arrest outside Maharashtra legislature


Pic - courtesy Dilnaz Boga
Mumbai, Tue, 02 Apr 2013IANS

Mumbai, April 2 (IANS) An artiste-activist couple from a Pune-based theatre group, accused of having Maoist links, court arrested outside the high-security precincts of Maharashtra legislature here Tuesday.

The duo, Sachin Mali and Sheetal Sathe of the Kabir Kala Manch, have been charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for having Maoist links.

“We wish to come clean of all allegations slapped against us mentioning us as providing aid to and assisting the Naxal (Maoist) movement. We wish to co-operate with the agencies and wish to have our names cleared,” Mali said as he was being escorted away by police under tight security.

The couple, which had gone underground and remained wanted for several years, have contended that their surrender is like a “revolution” and that they expected restraint from torture or being implicated in false cases by the authorities.

However, it was not clear why they chose to surrender in a public place in south Mumbai which is under a high security cover in view of the ongoing legislature session.

After their surrender, the Mumbai police placed them under formal arrest and handed them over to the Anti-Terrorist Squad for interrogation and further investigation.

“A formal arrest has been registered with the Marine Drive Police Station and later they were handed over to the ATS for further investigation. The case is now being probed by the ATS, as it has the primary charge of investigating Maoist activities in the state,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Ravindra Shishwe told media persons after the developments.

Asked for his reaction, Home Minister R.R. Patil said his department was investigating the matter and he would not be able to comment on it till detailed information is received.

#India- Observe 23-30 March week -unconditional release of political prisoners and repealing draconian laws #AFPSA


COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS
185/3, FOURTH FLOOR, ZAKIR NAGAR, NEW DELHI-110025

ON MARCH 23—BHAGAT SINGH, SUKHDEV AND RAJGURU’S MARTYRDOM DAY

OBSERVE THE WEEK 23-30 MARCH 
FOR THE UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE OF ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!
TO REPEAL ALL DRACONIAN LAWS INCLUDING AFSPA & UAPA!
FOR POLITICAL PRISONERS STATUS TO ALL THOSE WHO HAS BEEN INCARCERATED FOR THEIR POLITICAL VIEWS!
NO TO DEATH PENALTY!

Revolutionaries never die. The martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru once again reiterate this truth. Their martyrdom epitomises the veritable saying even in death we shall dare! Yes the indefatigable spirit of the three martyrs still enlivens the struggle for justice and truth for many of the oppressed and exploited in the Indian subcontinent as well as the world. The conviction of the three martyrs as young revolutionaries to swim against the tide, to dare to dream of a new world and break new paths for the emancipation of the vast sections of the toiling masses of the subcontinent still lingers in the dreams of many in Post-47 India.

Today when we observe the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh-Sukhdev-Rajguru little have things changed from the days of colonial vintage with the vast sections of the people of the subcontinent living in abysmal conditions—literal hand to mouth existence—with uncertainties abounding their lives. All the efforts of these peoples to make their world a better place to live, with dignity, equality, security as human beings have been met with the worst forms of violence from the powers that be. The pro-imperialist, Development State that was ushered in, post-1947, in the Indian subcontinent has systematically pushed these peoples to the margins so much so that their survival is under peril. Every effort of the people to do away with this model of development that replicates the exploitative, oppressive structures of surplus maximisation of the local parasitic classes in alliance with imperialist interests have been met with criminal profiling by the Indian State. Several draconian legislations enacted since 1947 by the Indian State have been in one form or the other retained in many such legislations to follow till date despite protests from the progressive, democratic sections of the society. The present day Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) has turned out to be one of the most draconian legislations with scores of people put behind the bars under this act. Along with this is the notorious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that is in force in the regions of the North East and Kashmir as well as a surfeit of draconian security laws framed by the various state governments in India. The simultaneity in the spate of legislations of various kinds of draconian security acts by almost all state governments in India along with the aggressive implementation of the policies of Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation is significant. The last 15 years itself has witnessed this unprecedented rise of different forms of penal laws that are being used with impunity to silence and incarcerate many a Bhagat Singhs, Sukhdevs and Rajgurus in the length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent. But despite the beastly demeanour of the Indian State not a single project or policy initiative—be it mining, land grab, dam construction, super highways, forest land, or setting up of mega-steel plants etc—of the Indian government has gone without the news of protests from the masses of the people who have resorted to every form and means to defend their land and livelihoods.

At a time when from the various ministries of the central government to the Governors and chief ministers of the states let alone the lowest commandant of the paramilitary at the ground are all preaching ‘development’—an euphemism for further violence on them in the form of land grab, displacement from their habitat, a policy of unbridled loot and plunder of people’s resources—to the people the real violent face of the state has never been exposed so blatantly before the people. The duplicity of this talk of development of the State has never been more evident as it is today. The struggle of the vast sections of the people left with little options should also be seen in this context as an attempt to stay alive amidst the dance of death in the form of malnutrition, hunger, lack of opportunities of production and reproduction of their material world. The rural economy which has traditionally been the backbone of the vast sections of the people as the largest employment provider has been perilously stagnant the situation moving from bad to worse as the state has totally neglected any form of constructive expenditure in this area. The fear of more Bhagat Singhs and his ilk rising again from this genuine anger that vast sections of the toiling masses share with their martyred freedom fighter is palpable in the response of the state as more and more forces abound those areas of the subcontinent where the land is rich abundant with resources inhabited by the poorest of the poor. More and more prisons and state-of-the-art police stations are being built in the areas populated by the poorest of the people. The garrison state teethed with penal laws is fast becoming a reality.

Thus the target of the State which is in service of moribund capital in deep crisis has been the poor Adivasis, dalits, various nationality groups such as the Kashmiris, Nagas, Manipuri people, Assamese, Kamtapuris, the Muslim minorities who have become easy targets of the so-called war against terror. Around 25000 adivasis have been put behind bars in various prisons in the states of Chhattisgrah, Jharkhand, Orissa, Jungalmahal in West Bengal etc. Hundreds of Muslims framed in several cases as part of the ideological campaign of the Indian State which as pitched itself as the able partner of US imperialism in the so-called war against terror. The undeclared number of Kashmiri Muslims kept in various prisons as well as secret torture and detention centres run into thousands. Further India has become the biggest purchaser of weapons in the international market while it has little to spend on health and education.

As every form of dissent—struggle for better wages and working conditions, better and subsidized education, employment, livelihood, against displacement and land grab etc., is being criminalised by the State as the activists and their leadership of various struggles are being put behind bars with trumped up cases, anyone who has taken the trouble to question the anti-people, pro-business/capital policies of the government has become a Maoist. Anyone who empathises with the oppressed and discriminated, anyone who has given his/her time apart from their personal life for the betterment of the greater common good, for the cause of the poorest of the poor, the salt of the earth cannot be but a Maoist a la the perception of the police and an obliging, sensation driven media.

In such a scenario when prisons are being crowded with more and more people clamouring for their rights, with the State constantly in search of a submissive, naive subject as its people, the spirit of the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru becomes alive, as the long and arduous struggle to do away with all kinds of prisons that has become fetters to the overall development of humanity cannot be wished away.

CRPP calls upon all freedom loving people of the subcontinent to come forward to be part of the legacy of the martyrdom of our beloved freedom fighters and their cherished goals for a just and equitable society. The struggle to release all political prisoners and to do away with all kinds of draconian laws and to put an end to all forms exploitative and oppressive violence of the State in the form of capital punishment and other extra-judicial forms of killings are inseparable from the cherished dreams of the Great Martyrs.

In Solidarity,
Amit Bhattacharyya

 

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!

 

 

Press Release on Arrest of Scientist Mr Gopal in Kerala #UAPA #draconianlaws


Press Release
Jan 1, 2013
Chennai

We the undersigned professors, scientists, writers and rights activists are very much shocked to see the Kerala police picturing Mr.Gopal who was arrested at Mavelikara on December 29, 2012 along with six others as an extremist. Gopal was a former scientist in Atomic Research Centers in Kalpakkam and Mumbai. He is a well known civil rights activist in Tamilnadu and is an active member in the Committee for the Protection of Civil Rights (Tamil Nadu).

He was never arrested before and no charges or cases are pending against him. He never went underground and no such look out notice had been issued against him as described by the Kerala police and published in some news papers. We condemn Kerala police for spreading such an abuse against a reputed scientist and social activist.

We understand that out of the seven arrested, five of them are framed under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. We are much worried about the indiscriminate use of such a draconian preventive detention act against activists who have gathered in a hotel room to discuss some political issues of public interest.

We demand that the Kerala police should stop spreading abusive rumors against scientist Gopal and should apologize for having pictured him as an extremist and terrorist. We also demand that all those arrested in Mavelikara on 29th December should be released unconditionally and all the cases against them should be withdrawn.
We also feel that a national debate should be initiated about such vindictive usage of UAPA against Human Rights and Social Activists all over India.

Prof.A.Marx, Peoples Union for Human Rights, Tamilnadu Chapter,
Ko.Sugumaran. Federation for Peoples Rights, Puduchery UT,
K. Manoharan (S.V.Rajadurai), Writer and Senior Human Rights Activist, TamilNadu,
Prof. Praba. Kalvimani, Association for the Protection for the Tribal Irulas, Tindivanam,
Prof. Dr. P. Sivakumar, Former Principal, Govt. Arts Colleges, TamilNadu,
V.Natarajan, Former Scientist, Atomic Research Centre, Kalpakkam,
Prof. M. Thirumavalavan, Former Professor of English, Govt. Arts Colleges, Tamilnadu,
Prof. S. Kochadai, Peoples Union for Civil liberties, Karaikudi,
Prabanjan, Eminent Tamil Writer, Chennai,
V. Geetha, Eminent Writer and Scholar, Chennai,
Advocate Rajini, Peoples Union for Human Rights, Madurai,
Advocate Manoharan, High Court, Chennai,
Dr. V. Pugalenthi, Medical Practitioner, Kalpakkam,
Venkat, Scholar, Madras Institute for Developmental studies, Chennai,
Advocate A. Mohamed Yusuff, National Secretary, NCHRO, Madurai,
S.Ramanujam, Writer and Translator, Chennai,

 

#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/

 

#Invitation -Repeal AFSPA Save Democracy – #Irom Sharmila


Repeal AFSPA Save Democracy

We Want Citizen State Not Police State

Reach Raj Ghat, Delhi on 6 November 2012

12th Anniversary of Irom Shamila’s Fast

The lofty proclamations of liberal democracy – like: equality, liberty and right to life are the social contracts signed by the Modern Nation-State to legitimize itself, values as liberal democracy where citizens’ rights are sacrosanct, where individual rights are supposed to be the foundation in the structure of governance mechanisms including the force apparatus like army, paramilitary, and the police.

However, the reality is different. The existence of extremely draconian laws like the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, National Security Act, and various provisions in the Indian penal code like ‘sedition’ make a mockery of the claims of liberal democratic character of the Indian state.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 (AFSPA) is one of the most draconian legislations used by the governments to enslave and oppress citizens under the garb of fighting separatism/terrorism. For the past sixty years the North-East and for almost two decades Jammu & Kashmir have been virtually under army rule leave apart police. This rule by the army has had a drastic effect on the daily life of the average citizens residing in the North-East and Jammu & Kashmir.

Irom Sharmila took the cudgels to challenge the might of the government and her method has always been Gandhian, shorn of violence, concrete in belief and consistent in perseverance. Irom Sharmila is a Gandhian of our times made of a unique metal. Irom Sharmila has been on hunger strike for the last 12 years but she has largely been unnoticed as she sought to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 with her peaceful protest.

On 6th Nov.2012 we the following adherents to democracy and peace have  planned a day-long fast in support of the movement of Irom Sharmila.

Program

Venue : Samata Sthal (opposite Raj Ghat)

Date : 6 November 2012

Time : 8 am to 5 pm

All are requested to join and support.

Socialist Yuvjan Sabha (SYS)

Yuva Bharat, Sarv Seva Sangh, Azadi Bachao Andolan, Bangladesh Bharat Pakistan Peoples Forum & Others.

Contact: Program Convener Dr. A. K. Arun, Mobile: 9868809602.

Other Contacts: 9716634603, 9871111387, 9899003100.