A high level inquiry committee led by Loknath Behera, the Director General of Police, Kerala, recently found that the UAPA on 42 cases registered in Kerala would not stand valid.
This is indeed a glad news. Human rights activists and progressive democrats across the country have been for years voicing against this black law that has been used to violate human rights, suppress political opponents and hunt down the religious minorities. It was after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that the then UPA government passed the current Unlawful Activities Prevention Act after amendment incorporating many lethal provisions. Even though the Left front backed the move, they had sharply criticized the rampant misuse of law against the Muslims and Dalits. While the Left Front adopt a right approach towards the UAPA at the national level, harsh criticisms have been raised against the Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala in recent past for unbridled and biased use of the law. Even the CPI, a faction of the LDF had expressed disapproval. It was in this backdrop of widespread uproar that the committee presided by the DGP was entrusted to review the UAPA cases. The committee in its report to the government mentioned that the draconian law charged in 42 cases were unwarranted.
The state police chief haven’t so far disclosed the cases. When the report is submitted in the concerned courts and the legal procedures completed, the UAPA on such cases is expected to be revoked. The government acknowledging the criticisms against UAPA and showing willingness to take appropriate measures for rectification at least to a small extent, is welcomed. UAPA was first used in Kerala during the tenure of V S Achuthananthan government when Kodiyeri Balakrishnan was the Home Minister. The law primarily targeted Muslim youth and Muslim organisations in the state akin to north India. The Oommen Chandy government that followed also enthusiastically implemented the UAPA. Thasleem, a youth from Kannur was charged with UAPA and arrested during this time for providing legal assistance to his brother who was trapped in a UAPA case. He is still behind the bars with bail denied. Whether Thasleem is in the review list prepared by the DGP is not yet known. UAPA came to be slapped even on those who, driven by enthusiasm, glued posters and raised slogans.
Even the Pinarayi Vijayan government who came to power campaigning against state terrorism, also didn’t lack enthusiasm. UAPA has been charged in 26 cases after the present government assumed office. When an advocate filed a complaint with the police against a Salafi preacher and Hindu Aikya Vedi leader for hate speech, the government took an odd stance of charging only the former with UAPA. The UAPA cases related to alleged Maoists links were much stranger. The law was slapped even on those who stuck posters calling for the boycott of election. Of the 26 UAPA cases registered after the present dispensation came to power, 25 cases are known to be present in the list prepared by the state police chief. If that’s the case, it certainly can be seen as a rectification measure. The ridicule that the police force of Kerala has changed into a system that commits constant blunders and then regrets later, is true to an extent. Slapping a person with UAPA, imprisoning him and then fixing the mistake after months or years is of no use. The precious years of a person’s life once forcefully taken can never be given back. Our country consists of thousands of young men whose lives have been destroyed by the draconian law. Harassing innocents using the law has become a national cultural fest in the north Indian states. It shouldn’t happen in the state ruled by the Left. Political vigilance is therefore necessary in order to avoid bigger mistakes instead of regretting after committing blunders.