On 5 November, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties released a statement that criticised the Tripura police for booking lawyers, who undertook a fact-finding exercise on the recent violence in the state, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The statement is reproduced below:
The PUCL strongly condemns the Tripura Police for registering a FIR dated 03rd November, 2021 under the UAPA and other draconian provision of the IPC against a team of advocates from Delhi, the “Lawyers for Democracy”, for conducting a Fact Finding Enquiry into communal violence incidents in Tripura in mid-end October, 2021. It is clear that the police have invoked the draconian provisions of UAPA law only because of the findings of the FFT that the large scale violence which destroyed numerous homes, shops, mosques and other properties of Muslims in many towns in Tripura was the result of orchestrated violence unleashed by Hindu majoritarian groupslike the VHP and HJM, against minority Muslims with the tacit connivance and conscious abdication of their duties by the Tripura police.
What is most shocking is that the West Agartala Police Station has sent a notice u/s 41 A of the Criminal Procedure Code to Advocates Mukesh, National Co-Convener, AILAJ and member of PUCL- Delhi and Advocate Ansar Indori of the National Confederation of Human RightsOrganizations (NCHRO) imputing that it was their social media posts, statements and Report which were responsible for “promoting enmity between religious groups as well as provoking people of different religious communities to commit breach of peace”.
The absurdity of the police accusation and the malice underlying the police case becomes evident by the fact that the Fact Finding Team of the Delhi Advocates visited Tripura on 29th and 30th October, 2021 AFTER the outbreak of communal violence which occurred between 12th to 26th October, 2021. The team neither abetted nor provoked the violence, so even the lodging of the FIR by the police is nothing but a case of abuse of powers.
What is most disturbing for all those who are concerned about human rights in India is that the Tripura police are seeking to criminalize what is not only a constitutional freedom but also a constitutional and democratic duty of every citizen, to seek the truth about incidents of communal violence so as to fix accountability and transparency from the political and bureaucratic executive. In this case, the Tripura police is seeking to criminalise a Fact Finding exercise as the role of the police and state administration have been exposed.
The Context: What triggered the FIR against the advocates?