Over 10,000 Charged Under Draconian Law UAPA During 7-Year Modi Rule
The data proves what Indians and the world have been saying for long: that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s seven-year rule is increasingly authoritarian and anti-democratic, cracking down on civil liberties and jailing citizens in their thousands. An analysis of the government’s own data of the National Crime Records Bureau shows that Indian police in different states have arrested more than 10,000 citizens under the draconian and anti-democratic Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act since 2014, when Modi became prime minister.
In this period, nearly 7,000 cases were registered under UAPA, averaging nearly 1,000 a year. The number of accused in these cases crosses 10,000. The number of cases pending investigation is continuously rising at a yearly average pace of nearly 15%. Clearly, an overwhelming majority of those accused and rotting in prison are innocent and have been framed by the police.
Mohammed Ilyas, 38, and Mohammed Irfan, 33, were arrested in August 2012 by Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorist Squad and accused of being linked to terror outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba. After being in jail for nine years, they were cleared of all charges by court, owing to lack of evidence, and released in June. This month, police in Tripura is facing ire for invoking UAPA against 102 social media account holders, including those of journalists and activists, over alleged clashes and attacks on mosques in Tripura. The UAPA makes it virtually impossible for the accused to secure bail. Its provisions are so over-broad that the police can arrest just about anyone and put them in prison, without charging them for up to six months.
Two Women Journalists Arrested, Bailed For Reporting Hindu Extremists’ Assault On Mosques
In yet another instance of escalating authoritarianism in India, police in Tripura state arrested two women journalists for “spreading communal disharmony,” for reporting Hindu extremist attacks on mosques and Muslim homes and businesses in the state two weeks ago. The Tripura Police have not only continued to deny the attacks, despite overwhelming video and pictorial evidence from across the state, but have already criminally charged over a hundred people and organizations for tweeting about the anti-Muslim violence.
After massive social media outrage, a magistrate in Tripura gave them bail on November 15. Shockingly, the journalists, Samriddhi K. Sakunia and Swarna Jha, were arrested following a police complaint by the extremist Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which has been implicated by news reports in the violence against Muslims that the journalists were reporting. The police have accused the journalists of a criminal conspiracy for “promoting enmity” between religious groups.
During the course of their reporting in Tripura, the two journalists tweeted images and videos of mosques that had been vandalized, which appeared to contradict the police who had denied one of the incidents. Sakunia tweeted on November 14 that she had to face “intimidation” while reporting in Tripura.
On 13 November, Sakunia tweeted photos showing broken windows, fans and switchboards from a mosque in Panisagar town. On 12 November she tweeted the video of a mosque allegedly burnt on 19 October. The case against 102 others has been filed under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Hindu Extremist Mob Attacks Muslim-Owned Businesses In Maharashtra
Thousands of Hindu extremists allied to India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attacked Muslim-owned business in Maharashtra state’s Amravati district on November 13, forcing the government to order a curfew. Two shops belonging to Muslims were burnt during a shutdown called by the BJP.
About 6,000 extremists belonging to the BJP and its affiliate militias Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad had assembled before the violence began. A police officer speaking anonymously said the violence appeared to have been “planned a day in advance.” One shop owner, Feroze Ahmed, said that the police watched as his shop burnt. Hindu extremists also allegedly attacked a dargah.