Tripura police books 4 SC lawyers under UAPA over fact-finding report

Agartala: Tripura police have registered a case against four Supreme Court lawyers under the stringent UAPA and various sections of IPC for allegedly promoting communal disharmony with their social media posts about the recent violence targeting Muslims, a senior official said on Friday.

The lawyers have also been served notices asking them to appear before police by November 10 for questioning, Superintendent of Police of West Tripura district Manik Das said.

“A group of Supreme Court lawyers visited Tripura on Tuesday last and after their visit we noticed that several posts were made in social media expressing their discontent regarding the recent communal incidents. Police has registered a case and wants to know if the posts were made by them or were fake posts,” Das told PTI.

The case was registered at West Agartala police station on November 3 under various sections of IPC including 153 (a) and (b) related to promoting disharmony, enmity or feelings of hatred between different groups on the grounds of religion, race etc, 469 (forgery), 504 (intentional insult, provocation), 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy), besides section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

If convicted under the tough UAPA, an offender may face imprisonment up to seven years.

The lawyers belong to different organisations including Lawyers for Democracy, National Confederation of Human Rights Organization (NCHRO) and the PUCL.

Notices were served to Ehtesham Hashmi, lawyer of the Supreme Court of India, advocate Amit Srivastav, Coodinator of Lawyers for Democracy, NCHRO national secretary Ansar Indori and PUCL member Mukesh Kumar. They were alleged to have claimed that the Muslim community was targeted, including women, and a mosque was vandalised.

The team demanded appropriate police action against the attackers, those who spread rumours and officials who remained inactive during attacks that occurred in the aftermath of violence against Hindus in Bangladesh during Durga Puja.

A mosque was vandalised and two shops were set ablaze at Chamtilla during the October 26 Vishva Hindu Parishad rally which was called to protest against the communal violence in neighbouring Bangladesh.

Three houses and a few shops, reportedly owned by Muslims, were also ransacked in nearby Rowa Bazar, North Tripura Superintendent of Police Bhanupada Chakraborty had said.

The state government had on October 29 alleged that a group with vested interest from outside had hatched a conspiracy against the administration to create unrest in Tripura and malign its image by uploading fake photographs of a burning mosque on social media after the October 26 incident.

In a video message on Wednesday, DIG (Southern Range) G K Rao said, “Some mischievous incidents are happening in the state since the last few days. There was some minor loss of property and some incidents of disturbance occurred. Tripura Police registered 11 cases including 4 in North Tripura, 3 in West Tripura, one in Gomati district and three cases in Sepahijala district.

In the notice to the lawyers, police asked them to delete the social media posts and appear before the investigators by November 10.

The Trinamool Congress, which is seeking to make a political foray into the state, approached the NHRC with a complaint about the incidents of violence. The human rights panel has forwarded its complaint to Tripura Chief Secretary Kumar Alok and Director General of Police V S Yadav, and asked them to submit an “action taken report” within four weeks.

In its complaint to the NHRC on October 28, the TMC alleged that despite reports of violence against people from the religious minority community, the state government didn’t take proper action.

Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb recently announced compensation for losses incurred by the victims of the violence.