Updated: November 4, 2019 7:01:00 pm
After the Kerala Police charged two young CPM workers under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for alleged affiliation to the banned CPI (Maoist), the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in the state has been pushed into a corner.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who handles the home affairs department to which the police reports, is under fire from his own party the CPI(M), ally CPI, and the Opposition UDF, which is led by the Congress.
Though Vijayan has promised to reconsider the application of the UAPA charges against the students, angry scenes played out in the state Assembly on Monday, as Opposition MLAs decried the police move, trying to paint a picture of an uncontrolled police force let loose by the ruling LDF regime. The CM finally said, “The government will not allow the misuse of UAPA provisions.”
Alleged police excesses and brutality under Vijayan’s watch have been a routine talking-point for the Opposition.
Allan Shuhaib, a law student, and Thaha Fasal, a student of journalism, both in their 20s, were picked up by the Pantheerankavu police in Kozhikode district Friday night and formally arrested under UAPA for allegedly possessing Maoist literature. Their homes were searched by the police. Both of them are members of the CPI (Marxist).
Incidentally, the two Left parties had vociferously opposed amendments to the UAPA in Parliament under both the UPA and the NDA governments.
The arrest of the two students came just days after the ‘Thunderbolts’ wing of the Kerala Police, formed specially to tackle Left-wing extremism, killed four alleged Maoists in the Manjakkandi forests near Attapady in Palakkad district. Both the CPI and the Congress have demanded a probe into the killings, expressing suspicions that the encounter could be fake.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala Sunday demanded the Chief Minister’s resignation for failing to control the police in the state. “In the name of hunting the Maoists, innocent persons are being charged under UAPA. If they (the two students) distributed notices, should they be charged under UAPA? Kerala is witnessing government-backed terror. The Chief Minister has failed to rein in the police. He must resign,” Chennithala told reporters.
CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran also denounced the move to charge the CPM workers under the draconian legislation. “There are no differences of opinion between the CPI and the CPM on provisions like the UAPA. Such draconian measures must not exist,” he told a television news channel.
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