Kerala Police reconsider if to charge arrested youths with UAPA

KOZHIKODE: With Kerala’s ruling CPI-M up in arms over the way the police have arrested two party workers under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), Kerala Police chief Loknath Behra on Sunday said he has directed senior officials to reconsider whether such a charge can be maintained.

Behra told reporters that he has directed two of his senior colleagues to conduct an impartial probe in the matter and take necessary steps.

“At present only a preliminary probe has taken place and now a detailed probe will be conducted. At that time it will be known if UAPA charges can be maintained and then the court will be informed of it,” Behra said.

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Two students of law and journalism, Allen Shuaib and Thaha Fazil, who are both full time CPI-M members, were arrested on Saturday after police recovered Maoist propaganda leaflets, besides material condemning the Union government’s action in Jammu and Kashmir.

Both of them were taken into custody and, after lengthy questioning, the police registered a case under UAPA, while a court near here remanded the two to judicial custody.

The aunt of Allen Shuaib, actress Sajitha Madathil, told the media that he is totally innocent and has done no wrong.

According to the rules, UAPA charges can only be brought following clearance by the state government, after a committee headed by a former Kerala High Court judge P.S. Gopinathan, gives its report on every such case.

Gopinathan, however, told the media that UAPA charges cannot be brought against a person just for carrying leaflets.

Former judge of the Kerala High Court, B. Kemal Pasha said that it is unacceptable if the police have chrged people under UAPA withou carrying out a detailed probe.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has drawn heavy criticism from several quarters as he heads the Home Department, while the Left Democratic Front (LDF) convenor A. Vijayaraghavan came to his defence on Sunday, sqaing Vijayan had no knowledge of what happened.

“It appears the police have got it wrong and the CPI-M is with the two youths,” the LDF convenor said.

State Law Minister and senior CPI-M leader A.K. Balan said the state government has the powers to intervene if it is proved that the charges cannot be registered under UAPA.

State Public Works Department Minister G. Sudhakaran, known for his razor sharp tongue and quick to retaliate on issues if attacked by the opposition, however, refused to comment on the issue.

” The CM will do the needful and he will react. State Ministers need not respond to everything,” Sudhakaran said.

Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan, who hails from Kerala, said that it was strange that Vijayan, who is always critical of the BJP government on the UAPA, is now charging his own party members under UAPA and, more importantly, he is totally silent.

The police, however, are firm on proceeding, as a third person, who was with the two arrested, is on the run and they have identified the absconder.

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