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Most arrested under UAPA have no specific violence case against them: Report

Most arrested under UAPA have no specific violence case against them: Report

New Delhi: A report prepared based on the National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB) and the National Investigation Agency data claims that a significant number of people were arrested under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) between 2015 and 2020 without having had a specific crime or violence case against them.

The report prepared by the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) also said that of 8,371 people arrested in 5,924 cases during the period under the UAPA, a large number of people, who were later found to have not committed any crime related to terrorism or involved any anti-national activity, were forced to spend years in jail before their acquittal. There were only 235 persons convicted under the UAPA during the period, despite many among 8,371 arrested still languishing in different prisons across the country.

The PUCL report laid down incidents to show how the Central government allegedly abused the UAPA to fix scores against their ideological and political opponents, to demand an immediate repeal of the law and bail to those imprisoned on political grounds.

The PUCL report titled 'UAPA: Criminalising Dissent and State Terror: Study of UAPA Abuse in India, 2009 - 2022' is a compilation of NCRB data during 2015-2020, and case information on the NIA website from 2009, since the NIA was formed following the Mumbai terror attack.

According to the data available on the website, the NIA registered a total of 456 cases during the said period, of which 357 cases were under the UAPA. Setting aside 69 UAPA cases registered by the NIA which were under the Manmohan Singh–led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime, with 288 cases, the number of cases under the UAPA by the NIA has increased since the Narendra Modi led the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime came to power.

Across the country, the fourth highest number of UAPA cases handled by NIA were registered in Kerala (27), while Karnataka (13), Tamil Nadu (13) and Andhra Pradesh (12) had fewer cases. Of the 357 UAPA cases handled by NIA, 69 were registered when the Manmohan Singh–led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime was in power (from 2009 to May 2014), whereas 288 cases (around 80%) were registered under the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime.

Most of the cases the NIA handled were transferred to it from the state governments, the data says, while about 41 cases of this nature where the NIA had used its discretion to register suo motu. About 316 cases were taken over the NIA from the state with the intervention of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

The arrests made under the UAPA in the Bhima Koregaon case were of this nature where the NIA took over the case from the Maharashtra police soon after the BJP government supported by the Shiv Sena's Uddhav Thackeray had come to the state power.

Exemplifying other cases of this nature like the 2021 Munchingiputtu case in Andhra Pradesh, and a Madurai case of a man booked over an Independence Day Facebook post, the PUCL report says that the unbridled power of the Central government had enabled the NIA to take over any case from the state government, which in turn jeopardised the federal system of the country to set its political scores.

The PUCL report also questions the criteria of charging the UAPA on people and the ambiguity in the invoking of certain sections of the UAPA law such as Section 18 (punishment for conspiracy), Section 20 (punishment for being a member of a terrorist gang or organisation), Section 16 (punishment for the terrorist act), and others, which are said to be loosely defined to suit the NIA's version to arrest anyone whom they wish.

"[such] overbroad, sweeping and loosely worded provisions obviously permits arbitrary use of its provision to rope in anyone the police want to implicate in any case," the report argues. The report demanded the Centre make necessary amendments in the UAPA law to make room for classifying the under-trial prisoners so that they could secure bail whereby they could avoid long incarceration after beingare falsely implicated.

The report said that the UAPA has been slapped indiscriminately against the Muslim minority and people who opposed the Centre, dubbing them as extremists or people belonging to banned or proscribed organisations.

"At its core, the UAPA is a political-legal weapon at the hands of the state to use at will … Invariably, those against whom the UAPA has been widely used belong to members of the Muslim minority community, political dissenters and activists, those dubbed to be members of extremist groups and so on … [A] mere allegation that a person belongs to a 'banned or proscribed' organisation without any supportive evidence, is sufficient to get the person implicated and arrested."

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TAGS:NIANational Investigation AgencyUAPA casesthe BJP government
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