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India’s UAPA law: Curbing Terrorism or Stifling Democratic Dissent?

India’s UAPA law: Curbing Terrorism or Stifling Democratic Dissent?

The UAPA Law – Curbing Terrorism or Stifling Dissent?

24/01/2023

By Hindus for Human Rights

(DESH-VIDESH CONVERSATION SERIES – SPEAKING ACROSS THE DIVIDE)
Digital Evidence Planting: New Age Threat to Rights Defenders
Presented by Safa Ahmed of the Indian American Muslim Council on behalf of a broad coalition working to secure the release of all the Bhima Koregaon prisoners

WHY ARE MOST OF THE BHIMA KOREGAON DEFENDANTS STILL IN JAIL DESPITE FORENSIC FINDINGS THAT INCRIMINATING EVIDENCE HAD BEEN PLANTED ON SOME OF THEIR COMPUTERS?

Good evening. Digital forensics is a dry, technical field, but the consequences of digital attacks play out like a vivid, terrifying, and painful movie. With the help of technical experts, journalists, and activists, I have prepared for you this narrative of what was revealed in the forensic analysis of the hard drives of three of the BK-16 – Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, and Father Stan Swamy.
Read more


Invite: India’s UAPA law: Curbing Terrorism or Stifling Democratic Dissent?

20/01/2023

By Hindus for Human Rights / @Hindus4HR

The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and India’s Prisoners of Conscience (POCs): Targeting terrorism or stifling democratic dissent?
Saturday, January 21, 2023
6 pm PST,
7:30 am IST
The conversation will cover the history and the draconian provisions of the UAPA; how it compares to anti-terror laws in other democracies; the views of the State Department and USCIRF; what are some of the typical charges being made being under UAPA. Do they look unlawful to you? Some statistics: How many people arrested since the amended UAPA; Average time spent w/o trial or bail hearing; How many have gone to trial, etc.

Moderator: Govind Acharya, Amnesty International
Panelists:
Banojyotsna Lahiri, Activist, on Umar Khalid’s story and struggle
Yug Mohit Chaudhry, Author and Criminal Lawyer, on legal strategies on behalf of POCs and hurdles faced
Mihir Desai, Human Rights Lawyer, on the story and struggle of Bhima Koregaon 16 and what’s happening to lesser known detainees
Followed by a Q&A moderated by Govind Acharya
Register here

Press Conference & Public Meeting: “Conspiracy of Conspiracy Cases”

Press Conference & Public Meeting: “Conspiracy of Conspiracy Cases”


Poster by Campaign Against State Repression

Wives of Khalid Saifi, Hany Babu, GN Saibaba demand release of ‘political prisoners’

12/01/2023

Maktoob / by Maktoob Staff

Life partners of jailed human rights defenders Khalid Saifi, Hany Babu and GN Saibaba who gathered in national capital Delhi on Thursday under the banner of Campaign Against State Repression, demanded the immediate release of all political prisoners incarcerated under the Bhima Koregaon and CAA-NRC cases.
This event titled “conspiracy of conspiracy cases” was held to discuss the recent developments in Bhima Koregaon and CAA-NRC case where top intelligence officers have disclosed that there was no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and Bhima Koregano violence, as well as multiple international forensic reports revealing that the evidence was planted on the BK accused.
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Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

14/01/2023

Countercurrents / by Our Representative

Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was “no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence.”
Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Read more


Also read
Press Release by Campaign Against State Repression, Dec 5, 2022

Click to enlarge

CASR meeting: GN Saibaba, others called new generation freedom fighters, victims of state terror (Countercurrents / Oct 2022)

Press Conference / Statement by MRSD: Fabricating Evidence – Tampering with Fr. Stan Swamy’s computer

Press Conference / Statement by MRSD: Fabricating Evidence – Tampering with Fr. Stan Swamy’s computer

By Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy (MRSD)

In wake of the recent Arsenal report which exposes the malicious tampering with Fr. Stan Swamy’s computer, MRSD* organized a press conference on “Fabricating Evidence Against Life and Liberty: Tampering with Fr. Stan Swamy’s computer and its implications for Bhima Koregaon case” on December 22, 2022.
Speakers:
Fr. Joe Xavier, Convenor of Fr. Stan Swamy Legacy Committee of the Jesuits and Former Executive Director of the Indian Social Institute.
Fr. Frazer Mascarenhas, Former principal of St Xavier’s College in Mumbai and the Parish Priest of St Peter’s Church.
Mihir Desai, Senior Advocate at High Court of Bombay.
Nagarjuna G., Former Professor, Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.

*MRSD is a forum constituted by several democratic rights, civil society and people’s organisations to campaign for the release of human rights defenders falsely charged and imprisoned in the Bhima Koregaon conspiracy case, the repeal of UAPA and for upholding the citizens’ right to dissent.


en | 1:31 | 2022
Watch video


Press Statement

22/12/2022

By Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy*

Fabricating Evidence Against Life and Liberty: Tampering with Fr. Stan Swamy’s computer and its implications for Bhima Koregaon case

The latest report released by Arsenal Consulting, a Massachusetts-based digital forensics firm- proves that Father Stan’s computer was infiltrated by hackers since October 19th 2014, and more than 40 documents were planted in it. In his last video statement before his arrest, Stan had asserted that documents shown to him by the NIA were fabricated. Inspite of the same he was arrested on 8th October 2020 and subsequently died on 5th July 2021 in custody. Stan’s case represents not just grave injustice to the 84-year-old, but also the deep denigration of basic humanity by the system.
Fr. Stan was incarcerated in the Bhima Koregaon (BK) conspiracy case which has come to represent a major conspiracy against human rights defenders in India. Including Stan, 16 activists, lawyers, academicians have been arrested since 2018 in the case filed by the Pune police (later on transferred to NIA) following caste violence that broke out against Dalit visitors on January 1, 2018, in Bhima Koregaon village near Pune. Ironically, the police invoked UAPA, a law that Stan vehemently resisted, to arrest the BK-16 activists, and brand them as anti-nationals, urban naxals and members of a banned political party and even alleged involvement in a purported assassination plan on the Prime minister. The long list of allegations in the case is meant to arouse the deepest suspicion against these 16 accused, and against their work of defending democracy and people’s struggles.
Fr. Stan worked tirelessly especially for Adivasis in Jharkhand, their rights to land, forest, and against their false incarceration. Apart from being an activist, he also documented many instances of injustices in an impeccable manner. He also raised objections to instances of illegal mining and other supposed development projects which had the impact of displacing people from their home and hearths.
Fr. Stan’s arrest in the middle of COVID-19 pandemic, despite his ill-health and age, is a proof of the system’s apathy to human rights defenders. During his last months in prison, he repeatedly requested to be shifted to his residence in Ranchi. A patient of the Parkinson’s disease, Stan faced multiple challenges during his incarceration. Inspite of having contracted Covid and taking seriously ill, he was denied timely medical treatment and care in prison. However, no cognizance of this was taken, and the situation deteriorated resulting in the death of Fr. Stan, even while his application for bail was pending. His untimely and tragic death is a result of the sheer negligence of the jail authorities, NIA and failure of the entire criminal justice system to protect a defender of justice. Such denial of rights becomes even more stark with emerging documentary proof that the evidence presented in the case were fabricated. It must be noted that in April 2021, Arsenal consulting had already released a report proving the malicious hacking and planting of documents in computers of co-accused, Rona Wilson and Surendra Gadling.
The fact that Fr. Stan died before he could get a chance to prove his innocence is jarring. This case shows the extent to which illegal cyber-attacks are being used in Digital India to build false criminal cases against innocent citizens who can then be jailed indefinitely under the UAPA law. Such is the desperation of the system to incarcerate human rights defenders and dehumanize the society at large. At the same time, the real instigators of violence at Bhima Koregaon, Milind Ekbote of Samastha Hindu Aghadi and Sambhaji Bhide of Shiv Chhatrapati Pratishan are not being prosecuted and are instead being shielded politically.

We call for:
1. Immediate release of all remaining co-accused in the Bhima Koregaon conspiracy case and quashing of the case against them on the basis of fabricated evidence.
2. Reparations and justice for the wrongful incarceration of Fr. Stan Swamy that resulted in his death.
3. Impartial and independent investigation into the tampering of electronic devices and fabrication of evidence against the BK-16 accused in the case.
4. Impartial and independent investigation into the role of Milind Ekbote, Sambhaji Bhide and other right-wing leaders and outfits for planning and inciting violence on Dalits in Bhima Koregaon and their prosecution in the FIRs filed against them.
5. Repeal of draconian UAPA law used as a tool to curb dissent and political opposition.

*Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy: MRSD is a forum constituted by more than 20 democratic rights, civil society and people’s organisations to campaign for the release of those arrested in the Bhima Koregaon conspiracy case, repeal of UAPA and for upholding the citizens’ right to dissent.

Also read:
Hackers Planted Files to Frame an Indian Priest Who Died in Custody (Wired / Dec 13, 2022)

Thousands gather at Chaityabhumi to pay homage to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

Thousands gather at Chaityabhumi to pay homage to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

Dalit women must fight for rights: Ambedkar’s granddaughter

07/12/2022

Deccan Herald / by DHNS

Referring to the Bhima Koregaon case, she said Dalits are steadily adopting a “silent stance,” despite being attacked regularly across the country
B R Ambedkar’s granddaughter Ramabai Anand Teltumbde on Tuesday appealed to women to ‘unite and fight’ for scholarships and employment opportunities, indirectly hitting out at the Modi administration.
Read more


Thousands gather at Chaityabhumi to pay homage to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

07/12/2022

The Hindu / by Sonam Saigal

People of all ages, young and old, calling themselves ‘Ambedkar,’ gathered at Chaityabhumi, the cremation ground of the Father of the Indian Constitution.
Thousands of men, women and children from across Maharashtra came to Mumbai on Tuesday to pay homage to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar on his 66th death anniversary.
Read more

Public meeting ‘Thoughts Criminalised’ in Delhi

Public meeting ‘Thoughts Criminalised’ in Delhi

By Campaign Against State Repression

Press Release

Click to enlarge

 


Also read/watch:
Supreme Court’s suspension of Dr. G.N. Saibaba’s acquittal: ‘Technical grounds are also substantive’, says senior advocate, Mihir Desai (The Leaflet / Oct 2022)
Inconsistencies in Bail Orders Mean Individual Liberty Is Now the Outcome of Judicial Lottery (The Wire / Oct 2022)
Pandu Narote’s Death: A Reminder of Stan Swamy’s Demise, GN Saibaba’s Struggles (The Quint / Sep 2022)

● Video: Personal Liberty and the Indian Courts

25/10/2022


en | 1h 42min | 2022
The discussion examines the recent three judgements relating to
► The denial of bail of Jyoti Jagtap by the Bombay High Court in the Bhima Koregaon Conspiracy case.
► The stay on the Bombay High Court judgement of acquittal/discharge of Dr. GN Saibaba and others by the Supreme Court
► The denial of bail by the Delhi High Court of Umar Khalid in the Conspiracy case of the Delhi Riots of 2020.
Watch video (PUCL fb page)

New generation freedom fighters, GN Saibaba, others are victims of ‘state terrorism’

New generation freedom fighters, GN Saibaba, others are victims of ‘state terrorism’

Counterview / by Counterview Desk

A Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) meeting on 28th October at the Gandhi Peace foundation on, ‘Dangerous Brain: Saibaba and Others’, held to scrutinise the Supreme Court judgement suspending Bombay High Court’s acquittal order of Prof GN Saibaba, Hem Mishra, Prashant Rahi, Vijay Tirki and Mahesh Tikri, has demanded that the Apex Court should uphold the Bombay High Court’s order granting acquittal to Saibaba and others…
Citing the case of Jyoti Jagtap, Apoorvanand said that she has been denied bail because she criticized the government through their songs, means that there is no space in this democracy for criticism of the government.
Read more


Also read:
Inconsistencies in Bail Orders Mean Individual Liberty Is Now the Outcome of Judicial Lottery (The Wire / Oct 2022)

Should anyone be jailed for shouting ‘murdabad’?/ Video: Personal Liberty and the Indian Courts

Should anyone be jailed for shouting ‘murdabad’?/ Video: Personal Liberty and the Indian Courts

posters by @/bakeryprasad

Supreme Court’s suspension of Dr. G.N. Saibaba’s acquittal: ‘Technical grounds are also substantive’, says senior advocate, Mihir Desai

26/10/2022

The Leaflet / by Gursimran Kaur Bakshi

Three recent judgments, controversial for their adverse impact on civil liberties, came in for critical review at an online event, organised by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties.
On October 25, the human rights body, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (‘PUCL’) hosted a webinar on the effect of three recent judgments: Jyoti Japtap versus NIA (in which the Bombay High Court denied bail to activist and performer Jyoti Japtap, detained as an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case), State of Maharashtra versus Mahesh Kariman Tirki & Ors. (in which the Supreme Court stayed the acquittal by the Bombay high court of scholar, writer and activist Dr. G.N Saibaba’s conviction in a Maoist links case), and Umar Khalid versus State of NCT of Delhi (in which the Delhi High Court denied bail to activist Umar Khalid, detained as an accused in the Delhi riots case).
Read more


Should anyone be jailed for shouting ‘murdabad,’ says senior advocate Mihir Desai

26/10/2022

Scroll.in / by Scroll Staff

He made the statement during a discussion on three judgements that denied bail to activists Jyoti Jagtap and Umar Khalid.
Should a person be jailed if he shouts murdabad (death to) slogans, asked senior advocate Mihir Desai during an event organised by People’s Union for Civil Liberties on Tuesday, reported Live Law.
He made the statement during a discussion on three judgements that denied bail to activists Jyoti Jagtap and Umar Khalid and stay on the acquittal of former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba.
Read more


Conspiracy Allegation Used To Fill Gaps, Speeches Given A Criminal Colour: Gautam Bhatia On Umar Khalid, Jyoti Jagtap Bail Orders

26/10/2022

Live Law / by Padmakshi Sharma

People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) hosted an online event to discuss three recent judgements pertaining to civil liberties. The judgements included Bombay High Court’s denial of bail to Jyoti Jagtap (Jyoti Jagtap v. National Investigating Agency and Anr.), Supreme Court’s stay on the acquittal of Dr G.N. Saibaba (State of Maharashtra v. Mahesh Kariman Tirki And Ors.) and Delhi High Court’s denial of bail to Umar Khalid (Umar Khalid v. State of NCT of Delhi).
Read more


Video: Personal Liberty and the Indian Courts

25/10/2022


en | 1h 42min | 2022

The discussion examines the recent three judgements relating to
► The denial of bail of Jyoti Jagtap by the Bombay High Court in the Bhima Koregaon Conspiracy case.
► The stay on the Bombay High Court judgement of acquittal/discharge of Dr. GN Saibaba and others by the Supreme Court
► The denial of bail by the Delhi High Court of Umar Khalid in the Conspiracy case of the Delhi Riots of 2020.
Senior Advocate Mihir Desai and Advocate Gautam Bhatia spoke at the meeting and responded to these judgements.
An update on the delay in the release of Siddique Kappan was shared by Advocate Mohammed Danish from Kappan’s legal team
The discussion moderated by PUCL General Secretary, V Suresh, Arvind Narrain, VP Karnataka State PUCL and Kavita Srivastava, National Secretary PUCL
Watch video (PUCL fb page)


by Live Law (Oct 25, 2022)
People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) hosts an online discussion on 3 recent judgements- denial of bail of #JyotiJagtap; Supreme Court’s stay on the acquittal of #DrGNSaibaba and; the denial of bail of #UmarKhalid

The judgments will be discussed by Senior Advocate Mihir Desai (@mihirde19079979) Advocate Tara Naruala (@taranarula1) and Advocate Gautam Bhatia (@gautambhatia88)

Advocate Gautam Bhatia: We often hear that the trial courts and the High courts, when they are dealing with UAPA, have their hand tied owing to the text of the UAPA and the Watali judgement. I believe that there is space for the courts to work around.

Desai: Jyoti’s name was there in FIR from Day 1 as having shouted slogans at Elgar Parishad and being part of a play which dealt with issues such as demonitisation and dalit rights, which is now considered by the court as serious.
Desai: Most important aspect is the question of frontal organization. Jyoti was a part of Kabir Kala Manch, which is a frontal organisation but no-one knew that it was a frontal organisation.
Desai: You can’t throw names that this is a frontal organisation unless you come with a clear government notification. What is the basis of holding Kabir Kala Manch as a frontal organisation? Nothing.
Desai: Just the other day the prime minister called narmada bachao andolan as an urban naxal movement – anything can be called…which is okay for politicians but for courts to hold such organisations as frontal organisation is wrong.
Desai: In Jyoti Jagtap’s case, even prosecution admitted that there were around 150 organisations…even retired HC and SC judges included in Elgar Parishad…how are you picking one or two members like that? There is no link.

Read full thread


Also read:
Inconsistencies in Bail Orders Mean Individual Liberty Is Now the Outcome of Judicial Lottery (The Wire / Oct 2022)
Kabir Kala Manch Incited Hatred By Ridiculing Phrases Acche Din, Demonetization In Plays: Bombay HC [read order] (Live Law / Oct 2022)
Supreme Court Stays Release Of Prof GN Saibaba & Others In UAPA Case, Suspends Bombay HC’s Acquittal Order (Live Law / Oct 15, 2022)
Report: UAPA – CRIMINALISING DISSENT AND STATE TERROR (PUCL / Sep 2022)

Download report

The plight of jailed activists in ‘police state’

The plight of jailed activists in ‘police state’

Delhi. Oct 8, 2022

The Telegraph / by Pheroze L. Vincent

Try hugging your child with one arm
Political leaders on Saturday shared the stage with relatives and friends of activists imprisoned in terror cases, listening to how bail remained a mirage for years and police prevented the accused even from hugging their children in court.
Besides the release of their loved ones, most of the speakers demanded a repeal of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) which made bail difficult to obtain, and alleged that an “undeclared emergency” had turned the country into a “police state”.
Read more


Also read:

Report: UAPA – CRIMINALISING DISSENT AND STATE TERROR (PUCL / Sep 2022)
Download report

Press Release: India Behind Bars – The Cost Of Free Speech

Press Release: India Behind Bars – The Cost Of Free Speech

by AILAJ (Oct 8, 2022):
AILAJ co-organised ‘India Behind Bars’ press conference in the Press Club of India with
@AISA_tweets and @ryaindia. Hundreds of students, teachers, activists and concerned citizens of Delhi joined us.


By AISA (Oct 8, 2022):
Despite heavy rains, students, citizens of Delhi flooded the Press Club of India in solidarity with different political prisoners incarcerated under acts like UAPA, PSA, NIA etc. #FreeAllPoliticalPrisoners #IndiaBehindBars


Recording by Millat Times: India Behind Bars: The Cost Of Free Speech (Excerpt)


En/Hindi/Urdu | 30min | 2022
Watch video


click to enlarge posters

by Akash (Oct 6, 2022):
To quote Com. Ravi Rai @ravirai2015: “Those behind bars spoke up for us, it’s time for us to speak up for them.” #DelhiPogrom #bhimakoregaon
Join the Press Conference on 8 October at the Press Club.
#FreeAllPoliticalPrisoners #RepealUAPA


by AILAJ_HQ (Oct 5, 2022)
Join us on 8th Oct at 4 p.m. at the Press Club of India, New Delhi for a press conference on India Behind Bars: The Cost of Free Speech where we demand the scrapping of draconian laws and release of political prisoners.

click to enlarge poster

#ReleaseAllPoliticalPrisoners

click to enlarge posters

Also read:

Report: UAPA – CRIMINALISING DISSENT AND STATE TERROR (PUCL / Sep 2022)
Download report