CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said the arrest of Swamy was not an isolated case but a part of larger agenda of the present regime to pave the way for transforming India to a `theocratic, fascist Hindutva state”
NEW DELHI — “This (the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act or UAPA) must go from statute books. It has to be removed. We do not need these sorts of laws that can be misused. The present regime removed checks and balances on UAPA and misused this draconian law. It must go.”
This was stated by CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury on Wednesday at a virtual conference organised by the People Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) over the recent arrest of Stan Swamy, a Jharkhand-based tribal rights activist, under UAPA by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case.
Rights activists and leaders of opposition parties demanded the revocation of the controversial UAPA, which, they said, was being used frequently by the Modi government to silence critics.
Yechury said the arrest of Swamy was not an isolated case but a part of a larger agenda of the present regime to pave the way for transforming India to a `theocratic, fascist Hindutva state” from a “secular democratic republic.”
He said that the Modi government was “undermining the constitution and constitutional institutions.”
The CPI (M) leader cited the example of the investigations in the Delhi riots to back his argument that the government was misusing the UAPA. “Victims are being arrested and perpetrators are roaming free.” He accused the Home Ministry of shielding culprits while hounding human rights and civil liberties activists.
He appealed to activists, civil society groups and opposition to work together to save democracy and the secular fabric of India.
D. Raja, MP (Rajya Sabha), General Secretary, CPI, while speaking on the virtual media platform questioned the use of UAPA by the authorities against activists. He pitched for a collective fight for the release of all people.
He said the present regime was raking up left-wing extremism but remained silent on right-wing extremism that was trying to change India from a secular republic to a theocratic state.
Videos of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor were showcased at the online conference. Sorren accused the Modi government of undermining the democratic and secular principles. Tharoor slammed the Central government for arresting 83-year-old Swamy.
NCP leader Supriya Sule termed the arrest of Swamy as a “dirty political vendetta.” she assured all support to the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) which had organised the virtual meet to condemn the “brazen abuse of criminal laws in the country”.
Commenting on the current environment in the country, she said this was an unannounced emergency which was unfortunate. “These are challenging times and we must work together to let democracy and secularism flourish.”
Belgian-born Indian economist Jean Dreze admired Swamy’s work who, he said, spoke for the people’s right to food, work and against NRC and CAA, adding that the Jesuit priest was an honest and a respectable activist.
Dreze said UAPA was a black law that was being used against Dalits, tribals and minorities to destroy their lives. He showed optimism on the “broad-based opposition to the UAPA.”
He said that the opposition to UAPA should consolidate. “We have an opportunity to seize to repeal this law.”