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UAPA Against Lawyers Over Fact-Finding Report on Anti-Muslim Violence in Tripura

All India Lawyers Association for Justice said that the notices "attempt to suppress the reality" of the incidents.

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India
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Edited By :Tejas Harad

Tripura Police have registered a case under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) against two lawyers, who were members of a fact-finding team to Tripura, to uncover the “targeted attacks on Muslims” that took place in the wake of anti-Hindu violence observed in Bangladesh.

The notices, under Section 41 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), were sent on Wednesday, 3 November, to Advocate Ansar Indori of the National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations (NCHRO) and Advocate Mukesh, The Leaflet reported.

Both the lawyers have been asked to appear before the West Agartala police station by 10 November.

Meanwhile, All India Lawyers Association for Justice (AILAJ) released a statement condemning the cases registered against the lawyers, saying that the notices betray “the communal nature of the Tripura police and attempt to suppress the reality of these communal incidents.”
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Members of the Fact-Finding Team

Advocate Mukesh, who is a part of the All India Lawyers Association for Justice, was quoted as saying, “From 30 October 2021 to 1 November 2021, we were part of a fact-finding team that went to Tripura to look into the reports of communal violence flaring up in the state. I merely shared on social media what we saw. We held a press conference in Delhi, and thereafter did a Facebook Live of the event. I think they had an issue with this Facebook Live.”

The fact-finding team also included Supreme Court lawyer Ehtesham Hashmi, Advocate Amit Srivastav from Lawyers for Democracy, Advocate Ansar Indori of the NCHRO and Advocate Mukesh, who on behalf of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) released their findings on Tuesday, 2 November, at Delhi’s Press Club.

Meanwhile, Tripura Police have filed five cases against as many as 71 people "who posted provocative posts on social media".

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What Does the Notice Say?

The charges against Mukesh and Indori include sections 153-A and B (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc), 469 (forgery for purpose of harming reputation), 503 (criminal intimidation), 504 ( (intentional insult with intent to provoke the breach of peace), and 120B (punishment for criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The notice states, “During the investigation, your involvement has been found in connection with the case. As such, there are reasonable grounds to question you to ascertain the facts and circumstances relating to the case."

The notice also demanded the lawyers to “immediately delete these fabricated and false statements/comments made/circulated by you in the social media,” The Leaflet reported.

Communal Violence in Tripura

According to the fact-finding team, during the four-day-long violence against Muslims, 12 mosques, nine shops, and three houses belonging to Muslims were targeted.

Further, as per the report, Hindu nationalist groups like Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and Hindu Jagran Manch held violent protests and rallies across Tripura following the violence in Bangladesh, Maktoob Media reported.

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

While Tripura Police had claimed that the Chamtila mosque was not vandalised and the reports are ‘fake', the fact-finding team however asserted, "The claims of Tripura police are wrong."
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Govt Didn’t Take Any Action: Report

The lawyers have highlighted in the report that “Four days before this incident, Muslim organisation Jamaat-E-Ulema (Hind) met with Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Dev and informed him that such incidents could take place and there is a danger to the peace between Hindus and Muslims. Despite this, the government not taking any action is tantamount to sponsoring this violence.”

Further, commenting on police inaction, the report highlights that many Muslims tried registering a complaint but the police sent them back.

On Friday, 29 October, the Tripura High Court took suo motu cognizance of the violence and asked the state government to submit a report by 10 November.

The court had also directed the state government to take action against social media platforms to ensure that “false, fictitious, and/or fabricated news articles or visual footages do not come onto the social media platforms.”

Meanwhile, All India Lawyers Association for Justice (AILAJ) released a statement condemning the cases and added, "Inclusion of such a direction (to delete social media posts) is a clear presumption of guilt on the part of the police, and a violation of the cardinal principle of presumption of innocence."

AILAJ further demanded that the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court be holistically implemented, by “initiating necessary proceedings against the organisers and perpetrators of communal violence resulting in the destruction of property, instead of issuance of false and for release cases."

(With inputs from The Leaflet and Maktoob Media.)

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