In a tweet, Rahul Gandhi wrote BJP had used its favourite cover-up tactic of shooting the messenger after the state government slammed UAPA against journalist Shyam Meera Singh
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has criticized the government for invoking the controversial UAPA on journalist Shyam Meera Singh for tweeting – Tripura is burning. In a tweet, Gandhi wrote BJP had used its favourite cover-up tactic of shooting the messenger.
The Tripura police have invoked the law against social media accounts for posting distorted and false information about the violence on October 26. Around 102 social media were slapped with the charge.
On October 26, activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad had allegedly vandalized a mosque and properties owned by Muslims in North Tripura as a protest against the Hindus in Bangladesh during the Durga Puja held earlier that month. Contrarily, Tripura Police has claimed that no mosque has been gutted in the district.
UAPA against Supreme Court lawyers
Not only Rahul Gandhi but several other leaders and activists have condemned the government for slapping the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA. The state police had pressed the charges against two Supreme Court lawyers a day after the report on the riot was published. Lawyers Mukesh Kumar of the People’s Union For Civil Liberties and Ansar Indori of the National Confederation of Human Rights were part of the four-member fact-finding team who visited the state to compile the report.
The report, Humanity under attack in Tripura; #Muslim lives matter, quoted the act of vandalization in at least 12 mosques, nine shops and three Muslim households. Congress state president Birajit Sinha has said that government should withdraw the charges under the stringent law as normalcy has returned. According to him, the whole incident had started when VHP took out a protest rally against the Hindu attack in Bangladesh. A few participants torched properties owned by Muslims and have vandalized mosques. The state unit of Congress has questioned the government for using such stringent law over conventional law to deal with the violence.
The flay measure questions State government tolerance
The questionable art of using the act after the violence has amused a lot of people. UAPA is a preventive measure, usually used in the nick of violence. According to NDTV, the police has also sent a letter to Twitter seeking the social media company to divulge details about the account holders on the pretext of the charge.
The Editor Guild of India has said that it is an act by the state government to deflect attention from its failure to control majoritarian violence and take action against the perpetrators. “This is an extremely disturbing trend where such a harsh law… is being used for merely reporting and protesting the communal violence,” the report read.
In response to the charges against him, journalist Shyam Meera Singh has sent a message that journalists are not cowards. Interestingly, Khaled Beydoun was booked under the UAPA, who has tweeted about the Tripura violence and did not step into India in the last four years. Many Bangladeshi people were also booked under UAPA by the government for tweeting about the incidents.
But it is hard to blame the government as the draconian law is still a prevalent section in the Indian judiciary system without proper amendment to stop its misuse. It is not the first time that the act has been misused by the government. UAPA is the most prominent weapon to silence the dissent in Kashmir.