UAPA case: UDF asks CM to resign, CPI (M) blames cops

Ramesh Chennithala, Leader of the Opposition in the Kerala Assembly, told reporters that Vijayan, who also holds the Home portfolio, should resign as there was no other option. Photo/Twitter (@vijayanpinarayi)

Opposition Congress-led UDF in Kerala on Sunday demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan over slapping of UAPA against two CPI(M) student activists who were arrested for allegedly distributing pro-Maoists pamphlets, even as CPI(M) leaders blamed the police for the decision.

Ramesh Chennithala, Leader of the Opposition in the Kerala Assembly, told reporters that Vijayan, who also holds the Home portfolio, should resign as there was no other option.

The student activists of the CPI(M), in their early 20s, were arrested in Kozhikode on Saturday morning under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for allegedly being Maoist sympathisers and having some pamphlets and brochures with them.

The parents of the two -- Thaha Fazal and Allan Shuhaib -- have rubbished police claims that they are Maoist sympathisers.

Describing UAPA as a 'double-edged sword', Law Minister A K Balan, said it should not be used as a weapon to annihilate the innocent and activists working as per democratic norms.

When an FIR is registered, a lot of caution is needed.

"We will examine if, in this case, the FIR was registered as per rules," he told reporters.

CPI(M)'s Kannur district secretary M V Jayarajan was of the view that the government would act and rectify the decision to arrest the students under the 'dreaded' UAPA.

With criticism mounting against the state government and police over the decision to invoke UAPA on the student activists, DGP Loknath Behera Sunday directed two senior police officers to conduct an impartial probe and take appropriate action.

Necessary instructions in this regard have been issued to ADGP Law and Order and IGP (North Zone), a press release said.

"At present, only a preliminary investigation has been done. All aspects of the case need to be taken into account and evidence collected. Only after a detailed probe will it be clear if UAPA will stand in this case," the release said.

Meanwhile, Justice P S Gopinathan, heading the government-appointed UAPA committee for granting permission for prosecution, told reporters in Kochi that UAPA cannot be imposed solely on the basis of recovery of brochures from the accused.

"Only if there is evidence, UAPA will be valid", he said adding there have been several instances earlier when the committee had denied permission to impose UAPA for lack of evidence. UAPA would be valid only if there was evidence, he said.

Actress Sajitha Madathil, who is the aunt of Shuhaib, said the police action to register UAPA was 'shocking'.

A group of 25 police personnel came to the house in the early hours of Saturday and searched the house.

"He is not a Maoist. What has he done to attract UAPA?", she asked.

Police did not find anything from the house, and they only took his mobile phone was taken away, she said.

Allan's mother Sabitha said police had told them that her son had Maoist links, which is not right.

From 10th standard onwards, he has been a DYFI, SFI activist and a CPI(M) member, she said.

Aboobacker and Jameela, parents of Thaha, said their son used to work and attend journalism classes and he was the one who was taking care of the family.

She said she was scared of the police.

Police had said they had seized some banners and books from his house.

Jameela also alleged that police had threatened and forced her son to raise pro-Maoist slogan when he was brought home at 3 am on Saturday.

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