22 June, 2021

Rights Activists Arrest: This Law Is An Ass

Arresting activists is an attack on dissent in keeping with UAPA’s history

Rights Activists Arrest: This Law Is An Ass

On August 28, the Pune police mounted raids across several cities,taking into custody five civil liberties activists, invoking that dreaded anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). They were acc­­used of inciting violence in Bhima Koregaon in January, and generally of aiding the banned Maoist party. The police’s swift operation—oiled by a section of the media that flashed dubious letters about a conspiracy, and a lower judiciary that speedily signed transfer remands—has received a jolt for now.

The run of events evoked a sense of déjà vu. Have we not seen a vicious trial by media every time an agency presented its latest arrests as operatives of whichever group was in the home ministry’s favour that season? Have we not seen courts signing blank cheques for investigators—be it extended remands or ignoring signs of custodial torture? The ever-exp­anding circle of suspects since January, the stubborn refusal by the police to book Hindu right groups...

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