Skip to main content

Proposed legislation suspends all civil rights, gives police unbridled powers to arrest anyone ‘on suspicion’


By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
The Government of Gujarat continues to be on the offensive. Unable to deal with growing unrests and protests on several fronts, it has decided to unleash another draconian law called the Gujarat Protection of Internal Security Act (GPISA). Apparently, a draft is now ready and the Bill is expected to be tabled in the State Assembly at the next budget session.
The provisions of the forthcoming law are draconian on several counts; they negate the fundamental rights of citizens and go against the grain and spirit of the Constitution of India!
The proposals include that:
  • the Government can take action against caste groups, communities promoting ‘sectarian interests’
  • all offences under the new law will be non-bailable.
  • people can be arrested merely on suspicion of being a ‘threat to internal security.’ 
  • no legal proceedings against security agencies can be initiated for action taken ‘in ‘good faith.’ 
  • both public and private establishments can be put under electronic surveillance.
  • the Government can create security zones with special policing powers.
In short, the proposed legislation literally suspends all civil rights and gives the police unbridled powers to arrest anyone ‘on suspicion’. Defending the indefensible, an Official from the Home Department of the Gujarat Government recently said, “The bill will deal with internal security challenges posed by terrorism, insurgency, communalism and caste violence”.
This is all very ironic, since those responsible for such acts since 2002 in Gujarat now occupy high positions of power and privilege in the country and are cloaked with apparent immunity.
This is not the first time that the Gujarat Government has attempted to pass such a law. In 2003, when Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister, the State Assembly had passed the terrible ‘Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GujCoTOC) bill. Strangely enough it was, the Vajpayee government that sent it back in 2004 asking for major changes to be made.
The Bill was passed later thrice by the State Assembly. Two Presidents, APJ Abdul Kalam (2004) and Pratibha Patil (2008), sent it back to the State Government without giving their assent. In September 2015, the Central Government under PM Modi cleared another version of the GujCoTOC. President Pranab Mukherjee’s approval did not seem forthcoming; finally, at the end of January 2016, the Union Home Ministry withdrew this controversial anti-terror Bill.
Draconian laws are not new to Modi and his ilk. In March 2003, as the CM of Gujarat he also introduced the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, which makes it mandatory for permission from the civil authority before one can embrace another religion. In spite of his tall claims of ‘religious freedom’ in India, he has not withdrawn this anti-Constitutional law to date.
It is evidently clear that GPISA is designed to stifle dissent, to choke human rights defenders and anyone else who demand their legitimate and democratic rights. From the Gujarat carnage of 2002 Gujarat is on the boil: every effort has been made to crush the minorities; land and livelihood has been snatched from the poor and the marginalized – be it the small farmers or the ordinary fishermen.
Big corporations have profited immensely from this injustice. The patidars, the dalits, the safai karmacharis, the adivasis have all been on the receiving end in Gujarat.
The voices of protest and dissent in Gujarat and elsewhere cannot be silenced; those who take a stand for truth and for justice- can never be muted. The GPISA cannot be tabled in whatever form.
Attempts by the Government to defocus from the plight of the people is bound to have disastrous consequences. It is hoped that sanity and good sense prevails. Beginning with Gujarat, we cannot allow India to become another police or rogue state, as is happening in other countries around us!
We, the people of India, need to awake, now! We need to protest the GPISA!
---
*Well-known human rights activist. Contact: cedricprakash@gmail.com

Comments

TRENDING

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

Poser to Modi: Why is Gujarat not fulfilling Constitutional obligations to minorities?

Counterview Desk
In an open letter, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), a Gujarat-based civil rights organization, has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi on infringing upon MCC activists’ constitutional right to protest. Nafees says, they had no other demands except that the Gujarat government should move towards fulfilling the constitutional obligations towards minorities and international treaties to which India is a signatory.

World Bank needs a new perspective on development, not just a new president

By Maju Varghese*
The resignation of the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was an unexpected development given the fact that he had three more years to complete his tenure. Resignations at such a high level after bidding for a second term is unusual which prompts people to think what would have led to the act itself.