Skip to main content

PUCL meet cites NIA notice to farmer protesters, demands repeal of UAPA

By Our Representative

Senior activists from the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), along with around 100 organisations, which began a three day virtual consultation on human rights issues, have demanded repeal of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act, stating that these laws are being used as a tool to finish democracy and silence dissent.
V Suresh, PUCL general secretary, stated that UAPA has reversed every element of the principle of natural justice. The accused has to prove his or her innocence, illegal detention is justified for more than six months, bail grounds are not what the same as in other criminal laws, and even prima facie involvement in a case leads to denial of bail.
Suresh noted, UAPA has become a tool to silence dissenters and as a means to throw them in prison and deny them their civil liberties indefinitely. If earlier the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) was brazenly used on Muslims and tribals, mainly to persecute activists, dubbing them as terrorists and Maoists, ever since 2004, a more stringent UAPA seeks to target not only Muslim, tribals and Dalits, but also intellectuals, political critics, trade unionists, lawyers and activists who are do constitutional work.
PUCL vice president Mihir Desai, an eminent human rights lawyer, pointed towards how the NIA Act and the National Intelligence Grid or NATGRID are being used to further persecute those targeted, asserting, there was a complete invasion of the privacy of those who came under the radar of these agencies. NATGRID collects information from 12 agencies and people are subjected to constant surveillance.
Activists from the Human Rights Forum and the Civil Liberties Committee, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, made a presentation on what is happening in the two states which are non-BJP. Even the most basic tool of human rights work, like fact finding, is being criminalised.
Advocate Madhava Rao, citing various FIRs, explained how the targeting of activists has become a norm. Random statements from anyone are used in order to pick up anyone and blame human rights activists for distributing seditious materials or being associated with a Maoist organisation.
Advocates Kranti Chaitanya and V Raghunath said, even those working for simple developmental issues like education, health, food security etc. are being targeted. Those fighting against caste violence are under constant threat of being booked under UAPA. People are thrown into jail for years together before bail is granted, and those facing persecution include students, Dalits, tribals, women, civil liberty activists and environmentalists.
N Ravi Sharma, who earlier spent seven years in jail, and more recently was behind bars for eight months for forming an anti-Hindutva front with several organisation, said, the police operates with instructions from above. Holding different views is enough for you to be incarcerated.
Swechata Prabhakar, referring to her father D Prabhakar of the Kula Unmulan Pareta Samiti, said he found himself in jail as he challenged caste violence and was dubbed Maoist.
National Intelligence Grid is being used to persecute activists, invade into  privacy of those who come under its radar
A presentation by activists from Delhi pointed towards the violence in the national capital following demonstrations against the Citizenship Amendment Act, Nation Register of Citizens and National Population Register (CAA, NRC and NPR), stating, the Government of India is criminalising protests, much against the core principles of the Indian Constitution relating to the freedom of speech and expression.
Advocate Shahrukh Alam compared various judgements on the right to protest, including the judgement on the Shaheen Bagh road block, with the American jurisprudence on protest. He said, the comparison makes is crystal clear that a road block due to protest is equivalent to traffic block, and the offense is no greater than that. It is not a criminal act, even though in Delhi those participating in protests have been branded as terrorists.
Nadeem Khan of the United Against Hate, detailing the profiles of the 23 arrested persons under UAPA, most of them aged under 35, said, more than 400 people have been summoned by the Special Cell of the Delhi police in order to fix confessions. Those refusing to consent are threatened that they would face jail sentence, thus creating a culture of fear.
Well-known academic Apoorvanand said that any person who agrees with anti-CAA protesters and criticises Delhi police, such as Yogendra Yadav, Rahul Roy, Harsh Mander, are harassed. Lawyer Mehmood Pracha, who was representing many clients of the Delhi riots, is harassed by Delhi police in a most tyrannical manner.
Speaking about how those involved in farmers’ struggle are being harassed, advocate Guneet Kaur said that at least 100 protesters have been sent NIA notices. The nature of interrogation consists of people being called to Delhi and asked to submit their bank account details.
A massive intelligence exercise has been undertaken to target farmer-activists. The FIRs are vague, claiming that the farmers’ protesters are getting money from banned organisations like Sikhs for Justice and Babar Khalsa to promote terrorism, she added.

Comments

TRENDING

Australia least prepared to fight Hindu 'extremism', admits diaspora NGO group

Tiranga rally in Sydney: Cause of stir among diaspora By Our Representative  The Australian Alliance Against Hate and Violence (AAAHAV) has said that Australia is “least prepared” to counter the allegedly “rising threat of Hindu far right extremism”. Calling upon politicians, federal and state governments to “urgently recognise the threat far-right Hindu extremism”, it asks “to take concrete steps to address this threat.”

Young environmentalist's arrest 'sinister', even parents not told of her whereabouts

By Our Representative  The Coalition for Environmental Justice in India (CEJI), a civil society network, has said that it is “highly disturbing” that Disha Ravi, a young woman climate activist from Bengaluru was “picked up” in what is referred to as a “closely guarded operation” of the Delhi police. Disha, 21, has been remanded to police custody for five days after she was taken from Bengaluru to Delhi.

Mukesh Ambani's earnings during Covid 'can lift' 40% informal workers out of poverty

By Dr Gian Singh*  The Inequality Virus Report released by Oxfam, a non-profit organization, on January 25, 2021 on the growing inequalities in different parts of the world, sheds light on the growing economic, educational, healthcare and gender inequalities in India. The report has revealed that the wealth of billionaires has increased by 35 per cent during the lockdown period in the country.

US forensic revelation enough evidence to release Sudha Bharadwaj, others: Civicus

Counterview Desk  Civicus, a Johannesburg-based global alliance of civil society organisations and activists claiming to have presence in 175 countries with 9,000 members and working for strengthening citizen action, has sought immediate release of Sudha Bharadwaj, arrested in 2018 under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and accused of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”

'Bird, take me flying with you too!' Being Devangana Kalita

By Ashley Tellis*  I first met Devangana Kalita in a first year English Honours classroom in which I entered to teach Charles Dickens’ Hard Times in Miranda House, Delhi University, in 2008. She was one of the smartest students in the class – Devangana smiled the most and had the brightest twinkle in her eyes of the girls in the class. A middle class girl – Kalita comes from a family in upper Assam, the Kalitas along with the Brahmins dominate Assam (the Bamon-Kolita nexus as it is called) – in an elite all women’s institution known for a feminist, rebellious history. Like all institutions, it was repressive; like all all-women institutions, particularly so. But Miranda House had met its match in Devangana. She organised, protested, all within the democratic tradition resisted. The seeds of Pinjra Tod, the group Devangana was to eventually co-found, and which now finds her jailed for as absurd a reason as inciting a ‘riot’ were already sown in that first year. By the third year, they

20% of FIRs against journalists in 2020 alone, targeted attacks in 2021 'too many to count'

Counterview Desk  Condemning what it calls “alarming rise in state repression and clampdown on news outlets and journalists” that “expose” the anti-people nature of the establishment, India's top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has demanded “immediate release of arrested journalists, withdrawal of arbitrary charges and protection of media persons facing threats.”

Whither right to food? Social security scheme allocation for woman, child 'reduced'

Counterview Desk Pointing out that women and children have been ignored in the Union Budget 2021-22, the advocacy group Right to Food Campaign (RtFC) has said that the Government of India should have taken into account the fact that even after the lockdown was lifted, distress among marginalized communities continues, with people having lower incomes and reduced food consumption.

NAPM extends support to Indian, Aussie citizen groups 'opposing' Adani ventures

#StopAdani action in Australia  Counterview Desk  The civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), extending solidarity to the global campaign by the Youth Action to Stop Adani (YAStA), held in recently in Australia and India, has said that the effort was to bring more attention to the struggle aboriginal, indigenous peoples, farmers, working class and other oppressed communities against allegedly anti-people multinational corporate conglomerates.