New Delhi: Opposition leaders from several parties including Shashi Tharoor, Kanimozhi and Sitaram Yechury on Wednesday expressed solidarity with activist Stan Swamy, who has been booked under the UAPA, and demanded that the stringent law be repealed.
They also urged the public to break its silence on the government's efforts to "chip away the rights of the people".
The NIA arrested 83-year-old Swamy on October 8 in the Bhima Koregaon case. Activists and political leaders have been condemning Swamy's arrest, saying he is in jail despite being a patient of Parkinson's disease and suffering from other health problems.
Speaking at a press conference organised by the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren claimed that the government was trying to silence the voices of the marginalised communities.
In a video message, he alleged that under the present government, the country's unity, integrity and democratic structures were under attack.
"The NDA government sitting in the centre today is silencing the voices of those speaking for the adivasis, Dalits and other marginalised groups, the non-BJP ruled states are being harassed, the various constitutional mechanisms of our country are being weakened today by different groups and organisations for its own political benefit under a hidden agenda," he claimed.
"It is forcing us to ponder about where the country is headed. It crossed all limits today when someone like Stan Swamy was arrested. He is someone who has been working in Jharkhand for years, in the remote faraway villages, wandering in the jungles, just so that the adivasis, Dalits and minority populations here could be reached. This is extremely disappointing. Stan Swamy is also suffering from many diseases," Soren said.
He appealed to all political parties to come together and oppose the growing attacks by the BJP-led central government on civil liberties, federalism and democracy.
When the country is subjected to anarchy, when Hitlerism is practiced at some places in the country, the opposition should not hesitate to stand together, irrespective of which political party they belong to, Soren said.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury as well as the DMK's Kanimozhi urged civil society groups and the public to break their silence over the "government's attacks on the rights of the people".
"Today we have to make a decision as political parties, as the whole society, whether to accept what is happening in silence or say this is enough and fight them together," Kanimozhi said in the video conference.
"If we accept this, then in a few years we will not see a democratic India that we know. Every law that this government has passed has chipped away the rights of the people. It's time to break the silence," she said.
A total of 16 people have been arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in the case, which include three cultural activists of the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), Ramesh Gaichor, Sagar Ghogre and Jyoti Jagtap; thinkers, writers and academics Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Shoma Sen, Hany Baby; and lawyers, Sudha Bharadwaj, Surendra Gadling, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, who are all also trade unionists, and activists.
Activists Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut and Rona Wilson are also in prison.
Yechury said on the lines of the Bhima-Koregaon case, in the Delhi riots case too the perpetrators are going scot free while the survivors are being further victimised.
He pointed out that it is not a simple question of amending the UAPA. The entire UAPA law has to be repealed, along with sedition, since these laws are open to absolute misuse, he asserted.
"The UAPA has been grossly misused. Like POTA, this law has to be removed from our statute book. However, this is not the issue of just one law. All these draconian laws are being used to silence all dissent against the government," Yechury said.
"These arrests are not isolated cases. These are part of an agenda to establish a rabidly theocratic Hindutva Rashtra which was their plan from the beginning. This cannot be accepted. We must break this silence. For evil to succeed, the good only requires to be silent. People need to restore secular democracy," he alleged.
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said Swamy deserves "respect and support", not jail term.
Tharoor said he was convinced that "no Jesuit will indulge in any violence or entice anyone towards violence".
"This must stop. I appeal to the government to be fair and at least grant him bail. We stand in solidarity with Stan Swamy," he said.
D Raja, General Secretary, CPI, reminded everyone that during the Bhima Koregaon violence, thousands of Dalits were not only attacked but they were also charged with violence in hundreds of cases.
He said the CPI has opposed UAPA from the time it was introduced, as well as pointed out the dangers of right-wing extremist organizations which he claimed are trying to convert a democratic nation into a theocratic nation when other parties only talk about left-wing extremism.
He also requested organisations and political parties to stand up for DU Professor G N Saibaba, in prison over charges of allegedly having Maoist links, as he is being denied bail despite being 90 per cent disabled.
"The central government is a ruthless government and does not believe in Constitution and democracy as opposed to B R Ambedkar's vision and values. The larger fight is to call out the communal, fascist ideology of RSS and BJP," he said.
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Bengaluru, Jun 12: Karnataka police on Saturday said they have busted a Rs 290 crore plus scam that involved duping people through a mobile app after promising attractive interest on investment and two Chinese nationals were among the nine arrested.
The scam, aided by shell companies, is linked to money laundering and the suspected kingpin is a Kerala based business man with proximity to Chinese 'hawala' operators, they said.
Cyber Crime Division of CID said it has arrested accused persons, including two Chinese nationals, two Tibetans and five others acting as directors of the companies involved, and a search is on for the rest.
A complaint from Razor pay Software Private Limited said accused persons availed 'payment solutions' from them, claiming that they are in gaming, social and e-commerce businesses.
They, however, defrauded the company by using computer resources and by deviating from their original, registered line of business, the plaint said.
They started routing their transactions to collect payments from a different business named "Powerbank", an app listed in Google Playstore, cyber police said in a release.
Through customer complaints, the complainant company got to know that public invested money in the "Powerbank" app to earn interest on the invested amount.
The accused persons, after accepting the investments, neither gave the agreed interest nor the principal amount and cheated customers.
A case was registered under the Information Technology Act and 420 IPC (Cheating), the CCD said and added that the investigating team were successful in arresting nine men.
During investigation, it was found that Anas Ahmed, a Kerala based businessman, is the main person involved.
"We have also identified that he has very proximate connections with the Chinese hawala operators, which has come to light during the course of the investigation.
He had opened shell companies in the name of Bull Finch Technologies, H & S ventures and Clifford ventures to route the fraud money. Anas Ahamed is married to Chinese national and incidentally he did his studies in China," police said in the release.
Online applications hosted by him were later camouflaged and converted into different apps including Power Bank application, seeking investment from the public and promising good returns, the CCD said.
An unusual spike was seen in investments on the day Anees Ahmed announced much higher returns.
Subsequently, such apps were removed from Google Playstore and other websites and he absconded with the money.
Investigation showed Rs 290 crore inflow into his bank accounts and the CCD was successful in freezing a significant portion of it. There was a huge spike in opening of shell companies since November 2020.
"We have also observed that the Chinese handlers are in possession of a huge number of shell companies and bank accounts. Lured by the offer of the Chinese nationals, many innocent Indians and Tibetans have fallen in their trap to open shell companies and open bank accounts for them."