Centre draws flak over arrests of Muslim youths

Acharia describes provisions of the Unlawful Activities Act as draconian

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government on Tuesday drew flak from all quarters— the Congress and its allies, as well as the Opposition—in the Lok Sabha over the rampant arrest and incarceration of innocent Muslim youths for their alleged involvement in terrorist activities.

The government urged members of the House to bring such cases to its notice with specific details and promised “appropriate action.”

“There has been miscarriage of justice to scores of Muslim youths who were arrested and charged in cases related to terror attacks. In some cases, these young men have remained incarcerated for more than 10 to 15 years. 

Later, they were acquitted by the courts,” said Basudeb Acharia of the CPM. Acharia described some provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act as “draconian.” The government should introduce amendments to the legislation to ensure that the innocent, particularly the Muslims, were not implicated in false cases, he added.

The CPM veteran sought to know from Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde whether the government was contemplating rehabilitation and resettlement for families of such youths. Acharia also questioned whether any actions were taken against the investigating agencies which “falsely implicated” the youths and “harassed” them.

Joining the chorus, Chaudhary Lal Singh, Congress MP from Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir, said several people, who were not involved in terrorism, were arrested. Besides, many officers and other people who had helped the government fight terrorism, were also arrested. “I want to know from the government, what is being done to bring relief to such persons,” Singh said.

Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha sought to know how many “Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians” were booked for their alleged involvement in terrorism by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). “I want to know whether the NIA maintains religion-wise data of the accused booked for their involvement in terror activities? For how long they have been behind the bars?” he asked.

Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, who are giving outside support to the UPA, also raised the issue.

Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy dismissed the government’s claim that the accused in a case automatically gets bail if the charge sheet was not submitted to the court within the stipulated time frame of 90 or 180 days.

Taking note of Acharia’s claims, Minister of State for Home Affairs R P N Singh said it was “extremely unfortunate” if anybody was chargesheeted on concocted allegations. “The law does not discriminate against any caste or religion.” he said.

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