13 March 2017, MUMBAI: At the time, when the trial of hundreds of cases charged under the draconian law, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, UAPA is in pending and thousands of victims languishing in jails for a prolonged period, a host of activists, intellectuals, experts have called for the repeal of UAPA, here on Saturday (11th March) at Birla Matushri Hall.
In the grand seminar, organized by the “People’s Movement Against UAPA”, the common opinion that emerged was that the experience in India with respect to the clauses and operation part of the counter-terrorism laws is that, they violate the basic rights, alienate the marginal and minority communities.
The seminar with the theme of “Repeal UAPA Now” was inaugurated by justice Suresh Hosbet, former Justice of Bombay High Court. He expressed his views regarding the seriousness of the Black Laws in India. He spoke about invoking of the [Armed Forces (Special) Power Act], ASPFA Law in Kashmir and how it’s dangerous to the life of people living there. Every alternate day there is curfew; schools are closed almost all the time, every day innocent people are killed. He gave detailed information about the draconian UAPA Law. Under the UAPA, 2,150 people are detained for almost 10 to 15 years in jail. Any person raising their wise for Kashmir people he will be put in jail under this Law.
The National Convener of the movement, Kamal Faruqui, chaired the session, said that in 2004 POTA was repealed by Congress, but it was just a joke done with the people because a more dangerous law than the POTA was amended in 2014 i.e., UAPA during UPA government. He further said that the provisions in the UAPA are more draconian than the provisions in TADA and POTA. The government is misusing this law by suppressing the rights of the Dalits, Adivasis and Minorities as and when the people are raising their voice against injustice done to them.
During the introductory remarks, Adv. A. Mohamed Yusuff, central committee member of the movement said that the rulers, who fought against the black laws in era of the British slavery, were implementing such draconian laws against its own people in the independent India. The laws enacted by the rulers should protect the rights of the people, in contra they are lynching.
While delivering the keynote address, the Central committee member of the movement, Adv. K.P. Mohamed Sheriff explained the historical background of evolution of the UAPA. The, then Congress led United Progressive Alliance government was cleverly reintroducing the arbitrary powers of the police and security agencies, which were available in POTA, during the introduction of new amendments to the existing UAPA. Contrary to the normal rule, jail is the rule and bail is an exception in the UAPA cases and secret witnesses are allowed in the trial, which is against the concept of public trial and openness.
Justice B. G. Kolse Patil, former justice of Bombay High Court told in his speech, that in India all the good parts are occupied by the Brahmans and they don’t want other Indians to live with dignity. He appealed to the masses to get united, stand and raise their voice against the draconian laws, being misused by the rulers and authorities, who are under the control of Brahminical forces.
Prof. Ram Puniyani, Chairman, Centre for Study of Society and Secularism expressed his view that the UAPA is such a law, which is helping the investigation agencies getting more power and making the victims weaker. According to him, communal violence doesn’t happen in India but Communal forces are responsible for the violence to take place. Whenever there is a communal riot, a particular community, the Muslims are targeted and a particular group, the hindutva is benefited.
Sagar Gorkhe, President of Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) said that he is a victim of the UAPA. He was in jail for three and half years under the UAPA and has recently come out two month before. He met people in the jail who are booked under this law for nearly 10 years and there has been no case, no trial and they see no hope anywhere. This law has been made to suppress the dignity and freedom of people. He appealed to the masses to come out and support the political prisoners as the situation is highly pathetic.
E.M. Abdul Rahman, National Executive member of Popular Front of India expressed his concern highlighting the plight of the victims booked under UAPA and the widespread misuse of the law, he reiterated the need to repeal UAPA and all such laws that contravene the values of the Indian Constitution and the international human rights covenants to which our country had subscribed. He condemned that in spite of the frequent and large scale persecution of innocents by the administration and police under UAPA, most of the so-called secular political parties including Congress, CPI (M), CPI and even the Muslim league are not bold enough to come with a strong stand in favour the victims. Such an attitude is most dangerous to the trust of common people on secular parties. He appealed all individuals and organizations, which are fighting for the cause of the people to come to a common platform and put a consistent and collective fight against injustice.
Maulana Mustaqeem Ahsan Azmi, State president of Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind recalled the sacrifice of Adv. Shahid Azmi, himself was the victim of TADA and his contribution to the society fighting for the victims of draconian law. He appealed that such kind of lawyers, more in number are need the hour.
Syed Yusuf Sadhath, State President of Popular Front of India said that it is the dangerous situation, even the judiciary is biased. We can feel this through the recent verdicts, on one side Swami Asimanand was acquitted in the bomb blast case and on the other side Prof. Saibaba, living in wheel chair was convicted under UAPA. He called for the people and activists that it is the time to unite and act against the draconian act in spite of all differences among them.
Adv. Arun Fereira, Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR) and International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL), who Is also the victim of UAPA put up a question to the government about why there is need for such type of a special law with draconian nature to exist for 50 years (1967-2017), in the independent India. Does its existence mean that the successive governments wanted to suppress the ideology of the people and associations they affiliated? It is nothing but the act of the rulers against the Constitutional guarantees to the citizens. The fascist governments are creating these laws to suppress the basic human rights.
Dr. Salim Khan, member of Zonal Advisory Council of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Maharashtra said in his concluding remarks that injustice and tyranny can’t survive for long. He said on one hand the draconian laws like the UAPA need to be repealed and on the other hand laws need to be made to hold accountable punish the police and administration that misuse the laws.
Sadique Qureishi, State Secretary of the movement welcomed the gathering and programme was concluded with the vote of thanks by the programme convener Amir Talukdar. Thousands of people including the women actively participated in the seminar.
The movement, which has been campaigning nationwide against this draconian law, since its launching in 2014 at Delhi, appealed the people to raise their voice strongly against this law, till it is scraped, because the former repressive laws like TADA and POTA were withdrawn when people stood up and acted against the severe and drastic abuses under those laws.