By Pervez Bari
BHOPAL: A demand to repeal all repressive laws has been made by the Movement against the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and other Repressive Laws (MURL). The MURL is a joint platform of activists and groups for mobilising public opinion against these laws. It passed resolutions to this effect in a seminar held in Chennai the other day.
The above demand was made by Human Rights activists and advocates, who discussed about the UAPA, Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act, National Securities Act (NSA) and sedition law at a seminar on “Repressive laws under BJP Regime”.
The resolutions demanded from the Government of India to act upon the recent UN Human Rights Council statement & NCRB report about UAPA by initiating steps to save people from repressions under this law. The participants expressed concerns about the trends of judiciary against granting bail to the accused who are jailed under UAPA and other repressive laws. They urged the government to provide compensation and take legal action against investigation officers in the cases which end up in acquittal. The activists sought a time-frame to conclude trial in these cases.
According to the latest data published by the National Crime Records Bureau, (NCRB), overall 796 cases have been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in 2020. Besides, 4,071 cases were pending investigation till 2019 and 10 cases were reopened for investigation. In total, 4,827 cases are pending.
Social activist from Kerala E. M. Abdul Rahiman in his introductory speech said that not only minorities, but even journalists, human rights activists and all those who are raising their voice against the policies of the government are being targeted under these laws. He said that the government is suppressing the voices of the people who are raising their voice against the policies of the government. The people who have been arrested and kept under trial under these oppressive laws have only very few convictions. These oppressive laws are against the people, against the country and against the Constitution of India.
Prof. A. Marx, chairperson of National Confederation of Human Rights Organisation, (NCHRO), and Tamil Nadu president of MURL, said that it is the duty of every Indian to defend the Constitution by fighting the draconian laws that are against the Constitution. He reiterated that UAPA and all other repressive laws are against the letter and spirit of the Constitution.
Gurmeet Singh Juj, a farmer leader from Punjab, felt the farm laws completely violate the rights of the farmers. Efforts are being made to arrest them in false cases under these laws, he charged. He demanded the withdrawal of three anti-farmer laws, as well as the withdrawal of all those oppressive laws.
Adv. Bavani Ba. Mohan, TN state president of NCHRO, stated that at present the BJP-led Union Govt. has become very strong. They are leaving no stone unturned to misuse every law available against their opposition and the dissenting organizations and individuals. Now an individual can be arrested under UAPA even on an accused intention. The sad part is that even our MPs and MLAs are unaware of the dangerous depth of these laws.
Ms Pallabi Ghosh, a rights activist from Assam said that under AFSPA, many powers have been given to paramilitary forces that indiscriminately violate human rights. This law is depriving people of their rights in the provinces of the North East. Well known Irom Sharmila sat on hunger strike for 16 years to remove this law, yet the government remained unmoved, she added.
Sandeep Nimesh, a rights activist from Uttar Pradesh, explained the manner in which anti-incumbency people are being targeted by enforcing sedition sections in the country. Uttar Pradesh is in the forefront in this matter where the ruling BJP government has imposed sedition cases on protesters indiscriminately as a means of suppression.
Rajesh Ningthoukhongajam, a rights activist from Manipur, underlined the “blatant misuse” of the AFSPA for the last 53 years in Manipur. Pendency rate of cases for trial in the courts is 94.4 per cent, the activists said.
Adv. Mohamed Yusuff, central committee member of MURL who moderated the seminar, said that acquittal rate is five times more than conviction. Out of 142 cases disposed of by the courts, only 27 were convicted with the rate of 21.1 per cent; 14 cases were abated; in 2 cases, the accused were discharged and 99 cases ended in acquittals. He also released a report “Summary of Latest Data about UAPA Cases published by NCRB on the occasion.
At the outset welcome address was delivered by Sadique Qureshi (Coordinator, MURL) while later in the end vote of thanks was proposed by Kasali Meeran (Secretary TN, MURL).