|Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani|
Knowledgeable circles in Gujarat have revealed that the state government-proposed Gujarat Protection of Internal Security (GISP) Bill, whose contents have not yet been made public yet, is a “poor copy” of the similar Maharashtra Protection of Internal Security Bill, 2016, which was “withdrawn” under public pressure on August 26 (click HERE).
While the Maharashtra government, especially its chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, reportedly suffered a “huge embarrassment” after he was forced to withdraw under public pressure a notification to come up with the Bill, these circles say, “Gujarat appears least concerned.”
Like Gujarat's, the Maharashtra Bill had proposed to make it “compulsory” for all public spaces – whether publicly or privately owned – to have CCTV surveillance and security arrangements, which would be mandated by the police. The public spaces were proposed to be routinely audited for their security arrangements.
Similarly, the Maharashtra Bill had proposed up to five years imprisonment for merely showing cops in poor light. Section 14 (6) of the Bill, for instance, had stated, “Any police officer may use such force as may be necessary, in order to stop the commission of any offence under this Act, within his view”.
The Maharashtra Bill had also proposed to set up Special Security Zones (SSZs), where powers were to be given to to the police chief to ban or regulate the “production, sale, storage, possession, or entry of any devices or equipment or poisonous chemical, biological or radioactive article or substances, or electronic content of potentially explosive nature or any inflow of funds.”
This was interpreted as an effort to clampdown on NGOs receiving foreign funds. Also, it was pointed out, the Bill was not clear what it meant when it had sought to ban the entry of “electronic content of potentially explosive nature” in SSZs – bombs or to electronic media. This was left open to interpretation.
Like Gujarat's, the Maharashtra Bill had further proposed had included under “subversive activities”any act which were “intended” or were “likely to endanger” communal and caste harmony, safety or stability of the state or any part thereof.
It had also proposed to take action against efforts to “impede, delay or restrict any work or operation, any means of transport or locomotion, necessary for the production, procurement, supply or distribution of any essential commodity.”
Pointing out that the word ‘anything’ was particularly dangerous, legal experts had said, even rail roko agitation, a demonstration in front of a municipal office, a denunciation of the caste system, a speech about police corruption would all be considered 'subversive acts'.
Demanding that the Gujarat government should make public the GPIS Bill to allow citizens to draw their own conclusions, top Gandhian civil rights organization, Gujarat Lok Samiti (GLS), in a statement has said that the Gujarat Bill, likely to be introduced in the next Budget Session, would lead to “lead to suppression of their liberty and freedom.”
The GLS said, through this Bill the state government was proposing to “arrest any person without any complaint or any process of law in the name of curbing terrorism, sedition and communal, caste or community violence.”
“Another matter of serious concern is that the Bill proposes to to CCTV camera in house, organization or office”, the statement says, adding, this way, the government would have the right to infringe upon the privacy of any citizen.