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Tripura Police Invoke UAPA Against Lawyers Over Fact-Finding Report On Communal Violence

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
4 Nov 2021 2:48 PM GMT
Tripura Police Invoke UAPA Against Lawyers Over Fact-Finding Report On Communal Violence
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The Tripura police has invoked the draconian anti-terror law Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against two lawyers who were part of a team which published a fact-finding report about the recent communal violence which shook the state.The West Agartala Police served notices to Delhi-based human rights lawyers Mukesh of Peoples Union for Civil Liberties and Ansar Indori of...

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The Tripura police has invoked the draconian anti-terror law Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against two lawyers who were part of a team which published a fact-finding report about the recent communal violence which shook the state.

The West Agartala Police served notices to Delhi-based human rights lawyers Mukesh of Peoples Union for Civil Liberties and Ansar Indori of National Confederation of Human Rights stating that a case has been registered against them under Section 13(punishment for unlawful activities) of the UAPA over their social media posts and statements.

A day before the notice, the lawyers had held a press conference, which was streamed through Facebook live, to release the fact-finding report titled "Humanity under Attack in Tripura #MuslimsLivesMatter", which mentioned the attacks on 12 masjids,  9 shops and 3 homes belonging to Muslims. Supreme Court lawyer Ehtesham Hashmi led the fact-finding team. Advocate Amit Srivastav(Coordination Committee , Lawyers for Democracy)was the other member of the team.

The fact-finding team demanded the constitution of an inquiry committee headed by a retired High Court judge to investigate the incidents, compensation to victims, reparation of damaged religious places etc. Significantly, the team had also demanded strict action against people and organizations who made provocative and false posts in social media to incite people.

In the notice, the West Agartala Police stated that a case has been registered against Advocates Mukesh and Ansar Indori "against the social media posts circulated by you/ statements made by you for promoting enmity between religious groups as well as provoking the people of different religious communities to cause beach of peace".

The police asked them to "immediately delete these fabricated and false statements/comments made/circulated by you in social media", though the notice did not specify which were those social media posts.  Further, Mukesh and Indori were asked to appear before the Sub-Inspector of Police, West Agartala Police Station on November 10.

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).

"Shocked and surprised"

Speaking to LiveLaw, Mukesh expressed shock and surprise at the notice. "We are lawyers..we are law abiding citizens of India", he said.

He said that the fact-finding team visited Tripura mainly with the intention of providing legal aid to the victims. At many places, the team got the support of the local police and administration, he added.

"We are not against the administration. We want to bring public attention to certain facts to help the victims", he clarified. The report lauds some of the actions taken by the local police to curb the violence, he added. Mukesh said that he will follow the lawful procedure to clarify the stand before the Investigating Officer, to clear any possible confusions or misunderstanding.

Advocate Ansar Indori posted a tweet calling for the condemnation of the targeting of advocates under UAPA and demanded that the notices must be withdrawn.

Indori told The Wire that by invoking such charges against them, the state government was "trying to hide its own incompetence". He added, "With what has happened in our case, it is clear that this is an attempt to curtail the truth from being shared with the mainstream. Moreover, this is an attempt to scare us into silence and muzzle our voices."


Section 13 of the UAPA deals the offence of "unlawful activity", which is punishable with imprisonment up to 7 years . The UAPA defines "unlawful activity" as actions against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of India or causes disaffection against India.


Tripura police warns action against "malicious propaganda"

On Thursday, the Tripura police was seen posting many replies from its official Twitter handle to Twitter users who had made tweets criticizing the police investigation.


"Some posts in social media projecting doubts on impartiality of Tripura police in taking action against the perpetrators of recent communal incidents have been noticed. It is reiterated that Police is investigating these cases in a complete impartial and lawful manner", the Tripura police said in Twitter.

It warned that action will be taken against those "involved in spreading malicious propaganda with a view to creating hatred between two religious groups".

The police said that they have arrested around 71 people in connection with the violence so far and five criminal cases have been filed over alleged provocative social media posts.


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