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102 People Booked, UAPA Invoked: What We Know About Tripura Attacks So Far

Earlier, on 3 November, the Tripura Police had filed five cases against as many as 71 people.

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India
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Edited By :Tania Thomas

The Tripura Police invoked the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) against 102 people, including journalists, for reporting and writing on the recent communal violence in the state.

Muslims residing in Bangladesh-bordering Tripura have alleged that they were attacked after communal violence during Durga Puja celebrations in Bangladesh led to seven deaths.

Four Supreme Court lawyers who had expressed discontent over incidents of violence and vandalism against Muslim-owned houses and shops, also have cases of UAPA registered against them.

The lawyers belong to different organisations, including Lawyers for Democracy, National Confederation of Human Rights Organization (NCHRO) and the PUCL.

Some Prominent Names That Have Been Booked

Among others, Advocate Ansar Indori of the National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations (NCHRO), Advocate Mukesh of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Supreme Court lawyers Ehtesham Hashmi and Amit Srivastav were booked under the UAPA.

The four advocates booked were a part of the autonomous fact-finding mission looking into the anti-Muslim violence in the state.

Journalist Shyam Meera Singh alleged that he has been booked under the UAPA for merely tweeting “Tripura is burning”.

Maktoob Media's journalist Meer Faisal and global correspondent CJ Werleman have also been booked by the Tripura Police.

What the Tripura Authorities Have Said

The police in Tripura have also written to Twitter, urging the microblogging platform to block at least 68 accounts, which the state government accuses of "posting distorted and objectionable news items" in the wake of the communal unrest in the state.

The letter addressed to Twitter's grievance officer in California, United States has also asked for information regarding the admins of the mentioned pages and states further:

"In publishing these news items/posts, the persons/organisations have been found using photographs/videos of some other incidents, fabricated statements/commentary for promoting enmity between religious groups/communities in presence of a criminal conspiracy. The posts have potential to flare up communal tension in Tripura state between different religious communities, which may result in communal riots."
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According to the fact-finding team, during the four-day-long violence against Muslims, 12 mosques, nine shops, and three houses belonging to the Muslim community were attacked.

Tripura Police At Odds with Fact-Finding Mission

As per the mission's report, Hindu nationalist groups like Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and Hindu Jagran Manch held violent protests and rallies across Tripura after the Bangladesh attacks.

Further, upon visiting the Chamtila masjid in the Panisagar region, the lawyers found out that the masjid had been vandalised.

However, the Tripura Police had claimed that the Chamtila mosque was not vandalised and the reports are ‘fake'. The fact-finding team, in turn asserted, "The claims of Tripura police are wrong."

Commenting on police inaction, the report also highlighted that many Muslims attempted to register a complaint but the police sent them back.

Meanwhile, The Tripura High Court on 29 October also took suo motu cognisance of the violence and directed the state government to submit a report on it by Wednesday, 10 November.

The Quint previously noted that the police's attempts to penalise the fact-finding team under the draconian UAPA appears to be at odds with the intent of the court's directions.

Earlier, on 3 November, the Tripura Police had filed five cases against as many as 71 people for 'posting provocative posts on social media'.

'Truth Can’t Be Silenced by UAPA': Opposition Weighs In

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday, 8 November, also decried the use of UAPA against the people writing on the violence.

Gandhi on Monday wrote that 'Tripura is burning' is a call for corrective action and criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), saying that their "favourite cover-up tactic is shooting the messenger".

Gandhi appeared to be referring to the aforementioned case of Shyam Meera Singh.

He added, "Truth can't be silenced by UAPA."

Last week, Gandhi had alleged that Muslims were being attacked in Tripura and asked how long the government would pretend to be deaf and blind.

EGI Expresses 'Deep Shock'

Earlier, the Editors Guild of India (EGI) on Sunday, 7 November, had issued a statement saying that it was "deeply shocked" by the Tripura Police's action of invoking the UAPA, saying that there has been an "extremely disturbing trend" of using this "harsh law" for merely reporting on and protesting against communal violence.

"The Guild is of the opinion that this is an attempt by the state government to deflect attention away from its own failure to control majoritarian violence, as well as to take action against the perpetrators of this. Governments cannot use stringent laws like UAPA to suppress reporting on such incidents," a release from the EGI said.

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Edited By :Tania Thomas
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