The PUCL study found that 8,371 persons were arrested in 5,924 cases under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) between 2015 and 2020, while only 235 were convicted under the draconian anti-terror law in the same period. The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) report sheds light on the Union government’s alleged abuse of the anti-terror law and calls to repeal it. The report, which examines data from the National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) website, demonstrates that a significant number of the people arrested under UAPA were involved in cases where no specific incidents of violence were reported. It also found that a very large number of people arrested under UAPA were acquitted after being jailed for years. The report calls for the disbanding of the NIA and demands the immediate release of all political prisoners on bail.

The report, titled ‘UAPA: Criminalising Dissent and State Terror: Study of UAPA Abuse in India, 2009 – 2022’, looks at NCRB data from 2015-2020, and case information on the NIA website from 2009 – when the organisation was formed in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack – to August 12 this year.


A special National Investigation Agency court on September 30 acquitted Arshi Qureshi, who was arrested in 2016 for allegedly indoctrinating youngsters into joining ISIS. The court acquitted Qureshi, who worked at the Zakir Naik-led Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), of all the charges against him for lack of evidence. Qureshi was arrested in 2016 following a complaint filed by the father of an alleged Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) member, Ashfaq Majid, after he went missing and informed his sister that he joined the terror outfit. The NIA had charged Qureshi under various sections of UAPA. Qureshi’s lawyers, T.W. Pathan and I.A. Khan, claimed that the NIA’s first information report was an “afterthought and concocted at a belated stage” as the case was already being probed by two police stations (in Kerala). The prosecution examined 57 witnesses in the case, including the family members of the missing youth. However, the most important witness, Ashfaq’s father, based on whose complaint Qureshi was arrested, didn’t support the prosecution’s case.


A ‘padyatra’ that was to be held in Gujarat on September 26, in solidarity with Bilkis Bano following the release of 11 convicts accused of raping her and murdering 14 members of her family, was put on hold after the Panchmahal district police detained seven activists in the night of September 25 as “a preventive action”. The 180 km ‘padyatra’ from Randhikpur in Dahod to Ahmedabad was organised by social activists led by Magsaysay Award winner Sandeep Pandey and was to be held under the banner of Hindu Muslim Ekta Samiti. Pandey, who is among the detainees, has started a fast in protest of the police action at Kakanpur police station, where the activists have now been shifted. Two women activists, who were released, are also at the police station, protesting the police move. Those detained were Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey, Noorjahan Diwan, Tanushree, Nitesh Gangaramani, Kausar Ali, T. Gopal Krishna and Hanif Kalandar.


Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) President Syed Sadatullah Husaini has opposed the ban on Popular Front of India (PFI). In a statement on September 28, expressing disagreement over the government’s decision to ban the PFI and its affiliates, the JIH President said that banning an organisation is neither a solution nor does it suit a democratic society. Mr. Husaini added, “The culture of banning the organisations is in itself a clear violation of the fundamental rights protected by the Constitution and goes against the democratic spirit and basic civil liberties. People may have differences with these organisations, their policies and the rhetoric. We have also always opposed them on several counts but that is not the reason to ban an organisation and harass its cadres. It is the duty of the police and administration to maintain law and order in the country. If any individual breaks the law or commits any crime, the individual can be prosecuted and dealt as per the provisions of law. The courts will decide about allegations against them, where those individuals will also have a chance to prove their innocence. However, to ban an entire organisation on flimsy and unsubstantiated grounds is unjustified and undemocratic.”


Aam Aadmi Party MLA Amanatullah Khan, who was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau for alleged corruption in the Waqf recruitment scheme, has been granted bail. The Rouse Avenue Court in Delhi granted Khan bail on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh. Khan was arrested on September 16 in connection with irregularities in recruitment for the Delhi Waqf Board. While conducting raids at various locations in Delhi, the Anti-Corruption Bureau claimed to have found various “incriminating material and evidence” against Khan. A complaint had been registered against Khan stating that during his tenure as the chairman of the Delhi Waqf Board, he had illegally recruited 32 people, violating all norms and government guidelines and with allegations of corruption and favouritism.


A 15-year-old Dalit student died in Uttar Pradesh’s Auraiya district two weeks after he was allegedly physically assaulted by a school teacher over a wrong answer in a test. According to the police complaint lodged by the father on September 24, the teacher had allegedly “thrashed him with a stick” because he got one answer wrong in a social studies exam on September 7. A professor and rationalist from the Dalit community also suffered severe injuries on September 24 after he was beaten up by a group of “suspected Sangh parivar” activists at Mandirbazar in South 24-Parganas, allegedly for his comments on Hindu deities and rituals. Meanwhile, a 16-year-old Dalit girl was allegedly raped by a man inside the bathroom of a government school in Rajasthan’s Barmer district. According to the complaint filed by the victim’s mother, the incident took place on September 24, they said. In another horrific case of caste-based atrocity, a 14-year-old Dalit boy was tied to a pole and thrashed mercilessly by local residents over suspicion of theft in Kempadenahalli village in Karnataka’s Chikkaballapura district, a report said on October 2. The boy, Yashvanth, was accused of stealing the earrings of the daughter of a resident.


Uttarakhand Police on September 29 lodged a case against a leader of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) who made objectionable comments on 19-year-old Ankita Bhandari by terming her as “raw milk” before “hungry male cats” and blamed her father for her death. Vipin Karnwal was booked for spreading enmity and tension in the society and insulting the woman. Karnwal in his Facebook post said: “I did not go for any candle march or market closure. The father and brother who eat the earnings of a 19-year-old girl, whose daughter and sister works at a resort where there is open debauchery and the girl whose Jammu-based friend comes to inform the family about the scandal is the biggest culprit who let raw milk before the hungry cats.” 19-year-old teen Ankita was missing for at least six days before the authorities recovered her body from the Chilla canal in Rishikesh on September 24. Pulkit Arya, son of BJP leader Vinod Arya, was arrested in the case for pushing her into the canal following an altercation.

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