Tripura: Solidarity statements pour in for those penalised for raising voices

Support grows for Lawyers For Democracy, as well as Twitter users booked under stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act

Tripura violence

Solidarity statements have been pouring in for Lawyers For Democracy, who were recently booked by the Tripura Police under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for allegedly sharing fake information, on social media, as well as Twitter users who have been accused of posting “distorted or objectionable” content about the alleged Mosque vandalism in the state. Police say that these 68 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.

On November 3, West Tripura district police wrote to Twitter’s grievance officer at his official address in California in the United States requesting some social media handles be suspended as according to them, they were “publishing / posting distorted and objectionable news items / statements on Twitter regarding the recent clash and alleged attack upon mosques of Muslim communities in the state.” The police have asked for a list of IP addresses, and mobile numbers. However, according to journalist Shyam Meera Singh, who has also been named, Twitter has so far refused to do so.



Advocacy group demands withdrawal of the charges

Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) has condemned “the targeting of four Delhi based lawyers, 102 social media users and several activists for speaking out about the communal violence in the state of Tripura by the Tripura police,” and demanded the “immediate withdrawal of the charges and prosecution of the perpetrators of violence.” They stated that “following ten days of communal violence in Tripura by Hindutva organisations, the people of Tripura, particularly the Muslim community, continue to live in fear while the Tripura police and government are determined to deflect blame and target those documenting and bringing out the experiences of the people.”

CASR is a platform with over 36 organisations, including democratic rights organisations, student’s organisations, teacher’s organisations, trade unions and women’s organisations, who have come together against increasing state repression, targeting of academics, activists, journalists, lawyers, trade unionists and all such voices of democracy. They stated that Muslim community, “less than 9% of the state’s population, Muslims in Tripura were subjected to over ten days of terror. Hindutva organisations including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal, Hindu Jagran Manch and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) mobilised widely, held rallies and organised marches in Muslim localities.” They added that the neighbouring state of Assam, “also ruled by a BJP-led government, remains on high alert, particularly the Barak Valley, leading to tense polarisation on communal lines in the North-Eastern states, a phenomenon on the rise over the recent past.”

According to CASR, “Events unfolding in Tripura must be seen as a part of the larger trend of increasing erosion of democratic rights across the country,” and “The claim of conspiracy in Tripura while incredulous is merely an addition to a roster of ‘conspiracies’.”

The CASR statement may be read here:

Editors Guild of India, stands in solidarity with those charged under UAPA  

The Editors Guild of India has stated that it was “deeply shocked by the Tripura Police’s action of booking 102 people, including journalists, under the coercive Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, for reporting and writing on the recent communal violence in the state.” The state police have sent notices to various social media platforms under UAPA. It has demanded that the state government conduct an objective investigation into what led to the riots rather than “penalising journalists and civil society activists”. Their entire statement ay be read here:

Indian Women’s Press Corps issues statement

The Indian Women’s Press Corps has expressed its shock and dismay at Tripura Police’s booking of journalist Shyam Meera Singh under UAPA along with others. Shyam Meera Singh has alleged that he has been booked for tweeting “Tripura is burning.” It is a journalist’s job to inform, to highlight and present the true picture of events. It is not the journalist’s job to please people in power. The IWPC said, “The charge of UAPA on Shyam Meera Singh is a clear attempt to silence journalists by misusing laws to intimidate them,” and has demanded that “all such charges be withdrawn immediately and media be allowed to do its work freely.”



Tripura Police demand suspension of 68 Twitter profiles for comments on communal clashes

Tripura violence: Hate and communal polarisation

Notice under UAPA: A never ending spiral of detention

Tripura violence: Delhi-based lawyers booked under UAPA over social media posts



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