The Rihai Manch, a Lucknow-based human rights group, questioned the motive behind a new criminal law saying there are already several stringent laws through which organized crimes can also be dealt with. The new law, it said, could be used to implicate people from the minority community.
LUCKNOW — A human rights group has cast aspersions on the real purpose behind a new criminal law being introduced by the Yogi Adityanath government of Uttar Pradesh, saying that it could be used to target minority and Dalit communities.
The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet, in a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath here on Wednesday, gave its nod to a bill to bring Uttar Pradesh Control of Organised Crime Act (UPCOCA). The new law, the government said, is aimed at curbing organised crimes and mining and land mafia in the state.
However, the Rihai Manch, a Lucknow-based human rights group, questioned the motive saying there are already several stringent laws through which organized crimes can also be dealt with. The new law, it said, could be used to implicate people from the minority community.
“Whatever logics being given for UPCOCA are baseless. There are several laws like IPC and Gangster Act through which organized crimes can be checked. There is no reason for UPCOCA except that it can be used to implicate Muslims as has been done through MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act),” said Rihai Manch in a statement here on Wednesday evening.
Rihai Manch’s spokesperson Shahnawaz Alam said his organization will appeal to Opposition parties to oppose UPCOCA in the Assembly. He also announced to launch a signature campaign in the state against the new draft law. The UP government is going to table the bill in the state Assembly during the winter session beginning Thursday.
Since Yogi Adityanath assumed office in March this year, a sharp rise in the state’s crime graph has been noticed. At several occasions earlier, he has endorsed police encounters to wipe out criminals, and consequently more than 400 encounters have taken place in the last six months. Besides Opposition, the National Human Rights Council has also criticized him for endorsing police encounters.
In its notice to the Yogi government on November 22, the NHRC said: “The State government has, reportedly, described the encounters as an achievement. They consider it as a proof for improvement in the law and order of the state. The Chief Minister was quoted, in a newspaper on 19 November, 2017, saying that “Criminals will be jailed or killed in encounters. The reported statement of the Chief Minister tantamounts to giving police and other State governed forces, a free hand to deal with the criminals at their will and, possibly, it may result into abuse of power by the public servants. It is not good for a civilized society to develop an atmosphere of fear, emerging out of certain policies adopted by the State, which may result into violation of their right to life and equality before law.”
The NHRC had sought a detailed report from the state government within six weeks.