Alarming spike in UAPA arrests – Act now to stop heading towards an Autocracy: Popular Front

The revelation by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the Lok-Sabha that there has been an over 72 per cent increase in the number of persons arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in 2019 compared to the statistics in 2015, is shocking and of grave concern. 2019 was the year when the Hindutva government in the centre hastily passed a rash of anti-people bills.

There was a new political consciousness among the masses and a wave of popular anger against the ruling front that is steered by the venomous RSS ideology. People were up on the streets protesting and it is now evident that it was to suppress this organic dissent, the UAPA law’s ambit was expanded in the year 2019.

The steep rise in the use of UAPA, resulting in 1,948 arrests under 1,226 registered cases in 2019, can be traced to these dangerous developments, where the state has turned intolerant to dissent.

It is the indifference and inaction from the part of the mainstream opposition parties and the civil society that has brought about this precarious situation whereby the country is seen shedding all its foundational and constitutional principles like democracy and secularism. These trends were on the rise since Narendra Modi ascended to power in 2014. Recently we saw the US-based global democracy watchdog Freedom House demoting India from ‘free’ to ‘partly free’ and the Swedish V-Dem Institute relegating India as an ‘electoral autocracy’ from its earlier ranking as an ‘electoral democracy.’ 

These details revealed by the MHA should now wake-up the Indian citizens from their slumber or else these trends could be the death knell of our democracy. Once autocracy sets in, it will be difficult to dislodge the autocrats. Popular Front call-up on the Indian citizens to resist and oppose draconian laws like UAPA law, which has become a tool of oppression in the hands of a regime that has least regards for people’s rights.