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National meet to discuss UAPA changes allowing govt to 'brand' anyone terrorist

Protest against arrest of activists under UAPA for Bhima Koregaon violence
By Our Representative
Several civil society activists have called for a National Convention in Defense of Democratic Rights on August 31-September 1 at Rajendra Bhawan, ITO, New Delhi, especially focusing on the recent amendments to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), empowering government to brand, without due process, any person 'a terrorist', strengthening of the National Investigation Agency Act (NIA) and the dilution of Protection of Human Rights Act.
The convention, says a statement issued by the Delhi Solidarity Group’s (DSG’s) Priya Pillai and Anil Tharayath, would also focus on the “persistence” with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, the threat of a nationwide NRC, the undemocratic abrogation of Article 370 and 35A of the Constitution of India and the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir are all steps to legislatively institutionalize an authoritarian state.
The signatories, who include Kavita Krishnan, Harsh Mander, Vimalbhai, Madhuresh Kumar, Vijayan MJ, Kavita Srivastava, Anjali Bharadwaj, and Sumit Chakravorty, claimed that there virtually a “single-party rule in the country”, which is the assault on democratic rights is taking a “totalitarian character.” To give example, it gave the example of the arrest of nine human rights defenders, arrested under the UAPA, since the Bhima Koregaon violence of January 2018, even as its “real perpetrators” roam free.
Pointing out that an “alarming number of nearly 12,000 persons have died -- either in jail or in police custody -- in the last five years of BJP rule”, the statement says, “The use of UAPA and other draconian laws to intimidate and threaten dissenters is not new, but clearly, the situation is steadily worsening. It is challenging to ensure that courts perform their constitutional role and remain vigilant in the protection of democratic and constitutional rights.”
“It is a travesty that Prof GN Saibaba of Delhi University, who is almost completely disabled and now in a very critical health condition, is not even allowed access to medical care whilst in jail”, it says, adding, “In Assam, thousands are being illegally held in ‘detention centres’ for years.”
The statement says, “Several Dalit activists were arrested, brutalized and even killed after the April 2, 2018 protests against the dilution of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Many are still in jail even today.” It adds, “The daily brutality against Adivasis in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Odisha is on the rise.”

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