Popular Front National Executive Council Asks Parliament to remove draconian clauses of UAPA

The National Executive Council meeting of Popular Front of India, held at Calicut for two days, has demanded an immediate withdrawal of the new draconian clauses added by the Parliament in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act on 16 December 2008. The meeting called upon the central government and members of the Parliament representing different political parties to pass an amendment bill withdrawing the 2008 additions to UAPA in the current winter session itself.

The amendments were passed hastily without much debate or detailed analysis in the atmosphere of scare created by Mumbai terrorist attacks. Most of the provisions contained in the lapsed special laws like TADA and POTA were thus brought back in to this general statute. Accordingly, the onus of proof is on the accused and not on the prosecution. And it contains no mandatory safeguards against abuse. Also the new clauses authorize the creation of special courts with wide discretion to hold in-camera hearing and use secret witnesses against the accused. Warrant-less search, seizure and arrest with wide authority and few safeguards and compulsion of information from third parties without a court order are some other provisions that are against natural justice. The UAPA as now allows detention without charge of up to 180 days, including up to 30 days in police custody, and create a strong presumption against granting bail. The government can ban any organization by simply enlisting in the Schedule of UAPA. This is a grave violation of the freedom of association guaranteed under fundamental rights in the Indian Constitution. Though the provisions of the UAPA, 2008 claim to have adequate safeguards to protect the rights of the citizens, in reality it has served as a tool of oppression in the hands of political bigwigs and the police.

The illegal arrests and indefinite detention of innocents as under-trials cannot be ended, unless these draconian clauses are completely withdrawn from UAPA. It is heartening to see that many members of the Parliament have come forward in favor of the victims of UAPA. The NEC meeting of Popular Front has welcomed the stand taken by political parties like CPI (M), CPI, RJD and LJP against UAPA. It also reminded that the Muslim youth languishing in jails, their relatives and the community at large is waiting to watch the extend of pressure to be put by Muslim MPs especially those who belong to IUML, MIM and AIUDF in the ongoing session of the Parliament, in spite of their rhetoric in Milli and their party platforms.

The meeting called upon the people to observe Dec 6, the day of Babri Masjid demolition that happened 20 years back, as Anti-Fascist Day all over India. Various programmes will be organised by the organisation on the day, including a dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. The national campaign on the theme “Why Popular Front?” held for a month was reviewed in the meeting. Various programmes, big and small, helped reach out to millions of people and are proofs of the extensive mass support enjoyed by the organisation. The NEC has saluted the members and masses for making the campaign impressive and productive.

Chairman E. M. Abdul Rahiman presided. Office bearers and council members K. M. Shareef, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Moulana Usman Baig, Muhammed Shahabuddin , Adv. K. P. Muhammed Shareef, Elyas Muhammed, Karamana Ashraf Moulavi, O M A Salam, Muhammad Khalid, Muhammed Kalimullah, Prof. P. Koya, A. S. Ismail etc. participated in the discussions.

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