MCOCA model in Kerala?text_fields
Outgoing Kerala Police Chief Loknath Behera's interviews with various media outlets have provoked mixed reactions in the people. One of them is the mention that Kerala is becoming a recruiting centre for Islamic State terrorists – a reference that serves to lend credence to the sangh parivar propaganda. At the same time, to the question of love jihad, he responded that it is just a political campaign. When Behera was the Chief of Kerala Police, the performance of the force had been widely criticized. Even those who generally welcome the actions of the first Pinarayi government have pointed out shortcomings in the performance of the Home Department. At the heart of those criticisms is the fact that the Kerala Police has often acted in the interest of the Sangh Parivar. What the person who led such policing says when he retires, therefore will be subjected to close scrutiny. Behera's remarks on issues such as Islamic extremism and Maoist encounters are also relevant.
One statement of Loknath Behera in an interview with MediaOne is particularly noteworthy. He said he had recommended to the government that a law be brought about in Kerala along the lines of The Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA 1999), which is in force in Maharashtra, to curb organized crime. At a press conference on Tuesday, the Chief Minister not only confirmed this but added that he would consider bringing in a new mechanism to curb organized crime. There are many ominous indications in the DGP's recommendation and the Chief Minister's response in support of it.
The CPM has a clear stance at the national level about such laws which are the tools of oppression of the state. They strongly oppose the UAPA. However, we have seen in how deadly a manner Kerala whose chief minister of Kerala is the party's Polit Bureau member has used the same UAPA in the state. The past five years saw the UAPA being used indiscriminately to silence political dissent, and particularly against the Muslim community. They have even forgotten their own party's national stance while doing so. Many of the CM's stances and moves make one wonder if he has been enamoured of such draconian laws. The amendment attempted on the Kerala Police Act to curb social media was dropped only after huge protests by people on the left as well. Not only did the government use the draconian laws the Centre enacted, but it also tried to make laws of its own.
The statement of Loknath Behera and the statement of the Chief Minister indirectly supporting the implementation of an MCOCA model act should be read against the backdrop of this fondness of the Pinarayi Vijayan government for repressive laws. The relevance of MCOCA needs to be considered when there are laws, including the CAPA, to deal with habitual offenders and organized criminals. The increasing density of laws that undermine civil liberties is undermining our democracy. It is surprising that a Left government shows affinity to such laws. Meanwhile, democrats need to be vigilant not only against existing injustices but also about the ones that are in the making.