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

Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Report on "torture" in Kashmir jails: 44% detainees stripped naked, 29% electrocuted

Counterview Desk
A recent report titled “Torture: Indian State’s Instrument of Control in Indian-administered Jammu & Kashmir”, published by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), has claimed to build “on the body of human rights documentation on torture” in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) through an examination of 432 case studies. It seeks to focus on "the trends and patterns, targets, perpetrators, contexts and impact of torture" in the state.

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Bullet train impact report Japan agency property: Govt of India tells Gujarat NGO

The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) has told Gujarat-based environmental organization, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) that the detailed report of Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) representatives on their visit to Gujarat and Maharashtra assess the impact of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project on farmers is not its property, but that of JICA.

NHSRCL letter to PSS, signed by activists Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant and Swati Desai, comes following the latter’s request to it on June 10 for the report. PSS was one of the NGOs that represented JICA on the project, saying, if implemented, it would adversely impact farmers, even as pointing towards the fact that the project itself is unviable and Indian Railways needs to invest, instead, more on upgrading the present railway infrastructure.
Following the NHSRCL reply, PSS has shot a second letter to JICA, insisting that the latter should share a copy of the report, even as providing details of the …

Karma tribal festival an occasional to campaign for tribal rights: IPMSDL

By Our Representative
The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), in a solidarity statement has suggested that the current Karam festival of Central India -- which seeks to promote sisterhood, friendship, cultural unity, and closer link to nature -- should be the occasion to campaign against alleged efforts to violently drive away forest dwelling communities from their forest homes.
"Millions are threatened to lose lands and livelihood under the implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006", the statement States, adding, "As corporate interests continues to enter tribal territories and extract profit from its natural resources, indigenous people are pushed to further marginalization and discrimination."
Asserting that indigenous movement in India "remains steadfast in keeping their culture, deeply linked to their lands alive by carrying out their heritage and struggles", IPMSDL, even as extending "…

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”

Amidst Modi celebrations, thousands protest 'massive' submergence in Narmada Valley

By Our Representative
Thousands of women and men gathered on at the Shaheed Stambh in Badwani, Madhya Pradesh, to raise their voice against what they called "the destruction of the Narmada Valley", protesting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Gujarat BJP rulers for celebrating the Sardar Sarovar dam being filled up to the full reservoir level (FRL) on September 17, which also happens to be Modi's birthday.
Calling it a black day for the people of the Valley, whose villages and farms got submerged because of highest-ever water level having been achieved in the dam, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which organised the parallel rally across the border with Gujarat, regretted in a statement that Modi's celebration at the dam took place amidst " martyrdom of the Valley".
The demonstration in Badwani was preceded by a vehicles rally, which took rounds of the city streets. They were joined by people from several villages of Dhar district. They gather…

Kandla Port Trust activities 'destroyed' mangroves, affecting rare camel species: NGT

By Rajiv Shah
Taking serious note of large-scale destruction of mangroves on about 750 acres in Bhachau taluka of Kutch district, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Delhi, has “directed” the Gujarat government, its forest department, and the Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority (GSZMA), to “jointly inspect the area” and fix responsibility as to who is “responsible for obstruction of the creeks” next to the Kandla Port Trust (KPT), leading to the damage to the plantations in the area.

Narmada valley: SC notice to Gujarat, MP, M'rashtra on submergence sans rehabilitation

By Our Representative
Thr Supreme Court has issued notice to Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra governments following a Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA)-backed petition seeking the explanation as to whether large areas of Narmada Valley have gone into submergence by filling up the Sardar Sarovar dam up to the full reservoir level (FRL) without rehabilitating the project affected families (PAFs).