Statements on the passage of amendments to UAPA – Lok Morcha, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
December 23, 2012
Statement by Lok Morcha Punjab
Lok Morcha Punjab strongly condemns the enactment of Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment Act-2012, making the UAPA-1967 more repressive, sinister & draconian. Under the provisions of amending Act, which has been passed without any worthwhile debate in the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha, the following anti-people features have been added to it :-
The definition of “terrorist act” has been broadened to bring in its sphere the peoples activities and struggles against anti-people, anti-national & pro-imperialist neo-liberal economic policies, by including “economic security” in S.15 of the principal Act and terming any act threatening it as a “terrorist act”. To our rulers, those who are looting the national exchequere through corrupt & dubious means; who are indulging in black-marketeering, profiteering, hoarding, multi-crore scams, accumulating black-money; selling coal-blocks, oil-fields, telecom spectrum, mines and minerals etc to MNCs and their Indian agents for a pittance, do not pose any threat to the “economic security” of this country. But people struggling to oppose land acquisition for big projects; demanding better wages and security of service for industrial workers; remunerative prices for farm produce; land, forest & fishing rights for the poor; opposing casualisation, contractualisation & outsourcing in industry & Govt jobs; are now to be charged with threatening “economic security” of India and thus indulging in “terrorist act”, punishable under the UAPA.
The sweep and potential for mischief and misuse of the UAPA, has been greatly enhance by altering the definition of “person”. Now a family, a company, a firm, an association of persons or body of individuals – whether incorporated or not, every artificial juridical person, any agency, office or branch owned or controlled by any of the above have been included in the definition of ‘person’, thus broadening the deadly sweep of this draconian Act. Now even discussions amongst family members, loose groups of individuals, groups of people on Face-book, Twitter or other social-sites, can be found posing danger to the ‘unity, integrity, security, economic security & sovereignity of India and these can be branded as “unlawful” or “terrorist organizations” under the amended UAPA and subjected to ban & criminal proceedings.
The period for which the ban on any organization dubbed as “unlawful” has been extended from 2 to 5 years by amending Section 6 of the principal Act.
With this amended Act, India has formally joined the imperialist initiated “war on terror”, which in fact is a war by overt or covert means to plunder the natural resources and national wealth of the poor and under-developed countries. Offences mentioned under various treaties/ conventions, imposed by imperialist countries under the leadership of USA to protect their Civil Aviation, maritime navigation, Fixed Platforms located on the continental Shelf, nuclear installations, diplomatic personnel etc., have also been made offence under the UAPA by inserting Section 15(2) and the Second Schedule in the principal Act. The Central Govt has been authorized to add new treatises to this schedule through notification. With the increased control of corporates over the Govt and the “Economic Security” already having been given pre-eminent position, treaties protecting foreign investment, assets and plunder by MNCs may also find place in the Second Schedule.
By amending S.17 of the principal Act, participating, organizing or directing in raising or collecting or providing funds in any manner “for the benefit of, or, to an individual terrorist”, terrorist gang or terrorist organization for any purpose, has been made an offence under this Act. Thus even providing humanitarian, medical or legal aid to anyone accused of “unlawful activities” or “terrorist act,” has become an offence. Similarly, in case of false implication under UAPA, anyone espousing the cause of victims, can be accused of providing funds for the benefit of a terrorist and hauled up in jail.
Provisions regarding forefeiture of properties of the persons accused of ‘unlawful activities’ or ‘terrorist acts’ have been made more stringent. Now the courts have been invested with the powers to forefeit the properties of such persons, even in cases where the trial is not completed due to death of such persons. The proceedings against them shall not abate on their death.
The amending Act has been passed at a time when democratic rights organizations and vast sections of the Indn people are demanding repeal of such black-laws, as Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), UAPA, Section 124-A IPC (Sedition), Section 121 IPC (Waging war against the Govt) etc. It exposes the autocratic, undemocratic, repressive and anti-people character of our rulers. We have seen from our experience that these black-laws have been used to suppress peoples’ movements against repression & exploitation; to crush their struggles for protecting country’s natural resources from imperialist plunder. All the struggling sections of the people should come forward to oppose and defeat these black-laws.
JAGMEL SINGH General Secretary
GURDIAL SINGH BHANGAL President
Statement by Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
21st December 2012
Passage of Amendments to UAPA: Further erosion of Constitutional Rights
The pushing through of the amendments to Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in the Rajya Sabha, despite protests and calls for further discussion and deferment, indicates the consensus between Congress and BJP on the issue of civil rights. The passage of the amendments, which now bring economic offences under terrorism, and broaden the definition of person to an extent that will criminalize all forms of associations, will provide sweeping powers to the police and security agencies, and create a regime of suspicion.
False Claims of the Government:
Responding to the debate in the RS, Minister of State for Home stated that, “The Act does not give sweeping powers to the police and there are checks and balances that will prevent misuse of the Act.” He further assured the House that the law was “religion neutral” and would not target any particular community.
This is patently false.
Sweeping Powers to the Police:
The broad definition of person (“an association of persons or a body of individuals, whether incorporated or not”) will actually allow the police to detain and arrest anybody they deem to be an association.
Again, the clause that criminalizes the raising of funds “from a legitimate or illegitimate source… knowing that such funds are likely to be used …by a terrorist organization”… “notwithstanding whether such funds were actually used or not used” for the commission of a terrorist act will be open for misuse. The police can now ‘legitimately’ arrest people who have raised monies or sent remittances home, on the merest suspicion that they had subjective knowledge that it might be used for terrorist activities.
Such subjective knowledge, while may be difficult to prove in the courts of law, will not deter police from arresting people.
Checks and Balances:
The simple truth is that there are no checks and balances to blunt the draconian edge of this law. The Home Ministry had conceded as much to the Standing Committee when it said that an innocent person “can produce evidence to show that he is not associated.”
Yes of course. One always has the option of trying to prove one’s innocence, but that’s not called a safeguard.
Neutrality of terror laws:
The history of anti-terror laws belies this naïve claim. We have seen how POTA and TADA have been used extensively to target minorities (among others). Thousands, almost all Sikhs, were detained in Punjab during the TADA years, and the state of Gujarat invoked POTA against 280 people, 279 of who were Muslims. The last few years have seen UAPA being used extensively against Muslim men on charges of being members of banned SIMI; and on hundreds of tribals and democratic rights and cultural activists in the name of Maoism. It is a sign of times to come that the House defeated the amendment moved by a Left MP to keep trade unions out of the purview of the UAPA. The signal is clear: beware, all you, who speak for rights. The source of your funds could be investigated under terror laws.
The amendments push us back to the dark days of TADA and POTA, contrary to what the government may have claimed in the Rajya Sabha yesterday. The difference though is that while POTA and TADA were special or extraordinary laws, with sunset clauses, requiring extensions after their period of operation lapsed; UAPA has absorbed the draconian provisions while masquerading as an ordinary law with an indefinite period of operation.
Released by JTSA. (www.teacherssolidarity.org)