Under Cong, UAPA cases exploded in Punjab
Randeep Singh, 19, was attending a Gurmat Sangeet course in Ludhiana – specializing in the ‘dilruba’ musical instrument – when he was arrested by police in May 2017 under the Illegal Activities (Prevention) Act , following a case registered at the phase I police station, Mohali.
Four years later, including three and a half years in prison, Randeep was finally released on bail on December 23 of last year.
Randeep (now 24) is struggling to make ends meet. He eventually managed to get a job by reciting the kirtan (religious discourse) in a gurdwara in Jalandhar which pays him Rs 8,000 per month, after being turned down by several potential employers, all of whom said they could not l ‘hire as his name had imagined. in a UAPA case.
Randeep is among 370 men who have been held under UAPA since 2009 in the Punjab, according to data compiled last year by Ludhiana-based lawyer Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, who is the defense attorney in a lot of these cases.
The recent death of Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist Stan Swamy in judicial custody nine months after his arrest in an UAPA case has highlighted such cases in the country.
According to an Interior Ministry response to Lok Sabha in March, the number of UAPA cases and those arrested saw a sharp increase under the regime of the Congressional government in place in Punjab, compared to the previous regime led by Akali Dal . According to the response, in 2015 and 2016, a total of four UAPA cases were registered and seven people arrested. In 2017, 2018 and 2019, the total number of cases registered under the AAU in Punjab rose to 18, in which at least 101 people were arrested.
According to a list compiled by Manjhpur last year, there have been at least 94 cases registered under the UAPA since 2009, in which 370 people have been arrested. Of these, there have been acquittals in at least 47 cases. A similar number of cases were pending before the courts. From 2009 to 2016, according to data compiled by Manjhpur, when the government led by Akali Dal was in charge of cases in Punjab, the defendants in 41 of the 47 cases were acquitted / acquitted and six cases were pending. And as of 2017, out of 47 cases, defendants in six cases have been acquitted / acquitted and 41 cases were pending.
Manjhpur told the Indian Express last week that since he finished compiling the list last year, at least 20 more UAPA cases have been recorded in Punjab.
According to the Home Office’s March 9 response to an anonymous question from Congressman Lok Sabha Anto Antony, Pathanamthitta, Kerala, at least 897 UAPA cases have been recorded and 1,128 people arrested across the country in 2015, a year after the BJP formed government at the Center.
In 2019, according to the response, which was based on data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 1,226 UAPA cases were recorded and 1,948 people were arrested, an increase of 36.6% (in number of cases ) and 72.6% (in number of arrests).
According to NCRB data for 2019, 1,948 people were arrested under the UAPA across the country and 34 were sentenced. At least 92 defendants incarcerated under the UAPA were acquitted and 16 acquitted in 2019.
For Punjab, a review of the response showed that two cases each were registered under the UAPA in 2015 (two people arrested) and 2016 (five people arrested). In March 2017, Congress formed the state government, ending the 10-year reign of the Akali Dal regime. According to the response, seven cases under the UAPA were registered in 2017 and 44 people arrested, six cases were registered in 2018 and 27 people arrested and three cases were registered in 2019 and 30 people arrested.
The anti-terrorism law is criticized for being used as a “political tool”.
âUAPA’s main purpose is to keep people in jail for a long time. Records show that it is unnecessary law that is being used as a political tool. The already existing laws are sufficient to deal with any crime. The draconian UAPA law should be overturned. This is a cut-and-paste version of laws such as TADA (Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act and POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act)) – laws under which a person is declared a terrorist even without a trial. A world famous figure like Stan Swamy has died for lack of treatment after being booked under the UAPA. Has a bomb or incriminating evidence ever been recovered from Swamy? Manjhpur demanded, adding that similarly, a man named as an accused in a UAPA case in Tarn Taran district had been denied bail for about two years, despite being “diabetic and suffering from heart disease and tuberculosis â.
Manjhpur said that out of all UAPA cases in Punjab, there were only three convictions by the lower courts, with the accused subsequently acquitted by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana in two, and the appeal still pending in one case.
After being convicted under the anti-terrorism law, Randeep, a resident of Nanowal Jindar village in the Gurdaspur district of Punjab, spent more than three and a half years in prison before being released on bail by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana on December 23 of last year. in May 2017.
âThe case changed the course of my life. I was learning the dilruba, one of the rarest musical instruments, when I was picked by plainclothes cops at Dayanand Medical College (DMC), Ludhiana, on May 28. The next day the police showed me as arrested in a UAPA case. I did not know any of the other accused named in the case. I was falsely involved. I was among the young Sikhs who then sought justice in the cases of desecration of guru Granth Sahib in 2015 and who participated in camps that tried to wean young people from drugs and motivate them to follow the gurbani, âsaid Randeep to The Indian Express on the phone. . He added that his “family conditions” had forced him to look for a job, but every likely employer denied having employed him when he disclosed the UAPA case against him.
âA few days ago, I managed to find a job in a gurdwara in Jalandhar. I didn’t tell them about the UAPA case because I was in great need of the job, âsaid Randeep, who again took up Dilruba training – online this time – with another trainer, because the previous institution he had enrolled in had done nothing to defend him, including “obtaining CCTV footage which could have shown that he had been arrested by DMC Ludhiana police.”
Randeep, whose father is a truck driver, said: “My fellow students finished the course and are already well settled, but I had to start over.”
Satnam Singh, who was among those named to the Phase I police station FIR on the UAPA charges in which Randeep was released on bail, said police claimed to have arrested the accused in [Punjab RSS chief Brigadier Jagdish] The murder case of Gagneja (retired), but could not stop the perpetrators of the desecration of Guru Granth Sahib. âWas Gagneja more important than Guru Granth Sahib? Asked Satnam, 27, who was also released on bail in January.
âThe police have shown that we are recovering weapons. When they are in custody, they can even show that a cannon has been recovered from us, âSatnam said.
Randeep and Satnam said all of the defendants in the case, around a dozen, including a woman, have been released on bail. A minor has also been named as an accused in the case. One person died during the trial.
In October last year, an Amritsar court acquitted seven defendants on UAPA-related charges in a terrorism case. Gurpreet Singh, 30, a resident of Jeonwala in Faridkot district, was one of the suspects released by the court in the case. Gurpreet now regrets that he was forced to spend more than three years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
âMy father retired as a junior engineer in the Punjab electrical department. One of my uncles retired as a sub-edar in the army and is currently working on the Guardian of Governance project – an initiative of the government of Capt Amarinder Singh where retired military personnel have been hired from the villages. to monitor development activities. My other two uncles are farmers. We did not do any anti-national activity.
Despite this, I was involved in the case. I have been accused of receiving funds from abroad, which I used for social activities and I have all the evidence. While we were cleared of the UAPA charges, the court sentenced us under the gun law. âI was sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of 10,000 rupees under the gun law. I was in jail for 40 months. I paid the fine imposed on me. What about the extra months I spent in prison? There was no compensation for it, âGurpreet said.