The Nagrik Adhikar Manch (NAM) and the All India Lawyers Union (AILU) have been supported by nearly 700 signatories on their petition demanding that the Tripura Government “stop communal violence” and “stop persecution of lawyers and citizens against communalism.”
The online petition advises against invoking sections 153A/153B/469/ 471/503/504/120B and Section 13 of ULAP Act, 1967 (UAPA Act, 1967) by the Tripura government against the Delhi based lawyers who visited areas affected in communal violence for their facts finding report. Members of Lawyers For Democracy, were booked by the Tripura Police under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for allegedly sharing fake information, on social media, as were Twitter users who were accused of posting “distorted or objectionable” content about the alleged Mosque vandalism in the state. The social media handles have also been booked under stringent UAPA.
The group of lawyers had, after their visit to the violence hit areas of Tripura, investigated and released their fact finding report simultaneously in Agartala and in New Delhi on November 1. On Wednesday, November 3, Tripura Police sent notices under UAPA to two of the lawyers who were part of a fact-finding team that visited the northeastern state to investigate the communal violence that broke out there in October. They have since then been supported by many citizens groups who have spoken out in solidarity. The NAM and AILU have, in their statement, called these actions an attempt at “silencing the citizens and advocates from even investigating facts regarding communal violence perpetrated by the VHP and Hindu Jagran Manch and Bajrang Dal on the people of minority Muslim community.” The statement has been signed by eminent writers, rights activists, artists, including Subhashini Ali, Syeda Hameed, Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Kavita Krishnan, Neelima Sharma, Sadaf Jafar, Shabnam Hashmi, Shamsul Islam, Suresh V, as well as over 600 concerne citizens from across the country.
The online petition states, “Political leaders who enter the portals of power after swearing in the name of Constitution undertake to wreck it from within by sabotaging the Constitution” adding that a “statement in protest against failure of the police and civil authorities in curbing violence is part of the democratic process” and that “reporting and protesting against communal violence and insisting for Rule of Law cannot by any stretch of imagination attract UAPA, sedition or any other criminal Charge/ offences slapped on the members of the fact-finding team.”
The NAM and AILU say that they “find that a pattern has been devised by the Government headed by BJP at the Center and in the states to use stringent legal provisions like UAPA and Sedition against dissenters and social activists to suppress their democratic freedom of speaking against injustice, misrule and failure of the political leadership to deliver.” They have called upon the west Agartala police to “withdraw the charges of under section 13 of (punishment for unlawful activities) of the UAPA and other offences reportedly slapped against Delhi-based members of the fact-finding team” and also “recall the notice sent under section 41 of the code of criminal procedure mentioned these IPC offences as well-Sections 153A/153B (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc.), 469 (forgery for purpose of harming information), 503 (Criminal Intimidation), 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke the breach of peace) and 120B (Punishment for criminal conspiracy) against the lawyers.”
The online petition maybe viewed and signed here: https://forms.gle/gqN5wDNpzWKMghzP6
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