MURL plans week-long drive against UAPA, Sedition Laws in India from Nov 20

New Delhi, November 17 (KMS): A nation-wide campaign against Sedition Laws and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) is being launched by Movement Against UAPA and Other Repressive Laws (MURL) from November 20 to 26.

The campaign is being launched by MURL that is a joint platform of activists and groups for mobilizing public opinion against these laws. It will be activated on various social media platforms like Twitter and other social networking sites along with poster campaigns, handbook releases, online signature campaign and online webinar.

A statement issued by MURL Vice Chairperson, Prof Marx, says that freedom of speech and expression are the basic principles of a democracy and these itself are being targeted and compromised due to Sedition Laws across India.

The statement says, a living and thriving democracy requires its citizens to actively participate in debates and express their constructive criticisms or views on the government policies. However, it says, the Sedition Laws have empowered the Executive and Administrative Branches of the Government of India to use these ambiguously defined provisions as an instrument to regulate, suppress and smother public opinion and wield power indiscriminately. “The Sedition Laws have become a tool to instill fear and force compliance towards the government policies in the common man. There have been many instances where the government has used Sedition Laws to suppress protesting voices to safeguard its interests, it added.

Referring to the custodial death of Father Stan Swami as ‘political murder’, the statement said it is an eye-opener for the society at large. Farmers who are agitating against the unjust farm laws in the Indian capital for the last one year are being falsely implicated with fabricated cases under UAPA provisions. Similarly, Bhima Koregaon inmates and senior lawyers are languishing in prison for the last few years, it says. The Judiciary refuses their bails under the provisions of UAPA especially Section 43 (D).

The death of Father Stan Swami in jail waiting for bail for nine months at the age of 84 has brought the spotlight back on the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), the primary counter-terror law in India.

Recently a plea has been pursued through court towards “Invocation of UAPA by State of Tripura against members of civil society including advocates and journalists” who documented and spoke against atrocities perpetrated on minorities in October 2021, so as to monopolise the flow of information from areas affected by violence by criminalising the very act of fact-finding and reporting, creates a chilling effect on freedom of speech and expression, the statement reads.