The Supreme Court on Wendesday ordered that no coercive steps should be taken against two lawyers and one journalist, who were booked under the draconian UAPA by Tripura police over their social media posts and fact-finding reports about the recent anti-Muslim violence which took place in the northeast state.
The writ petition was filed by two lawyers Mukesh and Ansar Indori and journalist Shyam Meera Singh seeking to quash the UAPA FIR.
The petition was listed after a request seeking urgent hearing was made before a Bench headed by the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana by Advocate Prashant Bhushan on behalf of Mukesh, Indori and Singh.
Tripura’s BJP government and state police have been claiming that there was no law and order problem in the state and no mosques were burnt by Hindutva groups despite media including Maktoob reported several anti-Muslim crimes across the northeast state.
Maktoob reported more than two dozen hate crimes against Muslims including mosque vandalisation, attacks against Muslim houses, shops, and hawkers, molesting Muslim women, and anti-Muslim and genocidal slogans during the rallies.
More than 100 people including journalists, lawyers, Muslim scholars, politicians, and rights activists have been booked under draconian UAPA and several sections of IPC so far after they carried out fact-finding visits to violence-hit areas and shared the news on social media regarding Tripura violence against Muslims.
The first of these UAPA cases were filed against two lawyers, Ansar Indori and Mukesh, who were part of a fact-finding team investigating the violence against minorities in the state. Charges were filed against them after the fact-finding team’s report, ‘Humanity under attack in Tripura; #Muslim lives matter’, was published which highlighted the vandalisation of at least 12 mosques, nine shops and three houses belonging to Muslims.
Following this, Tripura police arrested four members of a Delhi-based Muslim NGO, Tahreek Farogh e Islam, who carried out a visit to Tripura. All four who were charged under UAPA were sent to 14 days in police custody by Dharmanagar Court.
In another complaint filed on 3 November, Tripura police had claimed 102 social media accounts were responsible for spreading “objectionable news items/statements,” and the account holders were charged under draconian UAPA.
The 102 social media account holders (68 Twitter profiles, 32 Facebook profiles, and 2 YouTubers) include Jamaat-e-Islami Hind vice president Mohammad Salim Engineer, former Delhi Minorities Commission chairman Zafarul Islam Khan, Popular Front of India general secretary Anis Ahmed, Students Islamic Organisation of India national president Salman Ahmad and activist Sharjeel Usmani.
The list also includes 5 journalists. The journalists are Maktoob’s Meer Faisal, freelance journalist Sartaj Alam, Newsclick’s senior editor Shyam Meera Singh, freelance journalist Arif Shah and London-based monthly newspaper Byline Times’s global correspondent C.J. Werleman.