Jammu: Leading a protest against the BJP here, senior CPI (M) leader M Y Tarigami on Tuesday questioned the arrest of university students under UAPA for allegedly raising objectionable slogans and celebrating the Indian cricket team’s loss in the recent world cup final.
The protest was organised by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) at Maharaja Hari Singh Park in Jammu city against the “anti-workers, anti-farmers and anti-people policies” of both the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir administration.
“It (the students’ arrest) is wrong. They should not have slapped the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in the first place as we are a democratic country Sports should not be politicised,” Tarigami, who is also the president of CITU, told PTI.
He said just like Indian sportspersons are popular outside the country, cricketers from other parts of the globe are popular in India. “It is not a good thing to link politics and sports,” Tarigami added.
“Are they terrorists? If the government has an objection, there are other laws. But why slap UAPA (on students),” the CPI (M) leader said. He also pointed to the arrest of NewsClick editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha and its HR head Amit Chakravarty under the law.
The arrested youths are students at the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST).
They were arrested after police launched an investigation into a complaint by a non-local student who alleged his college mates had harassed him and raised objectionable slogans after India lost the final match and the cup to Australia.
Tarigami said the central government was involved “in the politics of polarisation” rather than bringing them closer to each other.
He also took a dig at the UT administration over the acute power crisis, especially in the Kashmir Valley, criticising it for not making any arrangements before the winter.
The CPI (M) leader asked all political parties to raise their voice unitedly on the issue. “Our people are punished because of the Indus Water treaty between India and Pakistan. We have raised this issue many times in the assembly and even held meetings with past prime ministers and sought compensation for the losses being suffered by J&K because of the treaty,” he said.
Tarigami added that “40 per cent electricity was sought but nothing happened”. He said even the Rangarajan committee formed by the government had recommended returning two power projects to J&K to address the power crisis but even that has not been done till date.
Addressing the gathering, the CPI(M) leader expressed serious concern over “unending problems” being faced by farmers, workers and the common man due to “job losses, unemployment and spiralling prices of all essentials”.
“Due to government policies, the indebtedness of farmers has increased and agrarian economy is continuing to face a crisis despite their contribution in the enhanced production. All the hard won rights of the workers have been watered down through pro-employer labour codes for ease of doing business,” he said.
After strong opposition by trade unions against privatisation, the government brought the National Monetisation Pipeline project and “handed over” all public sector assets to big corporations “to make money without any investment,” Tarigami said.
“Rs15.32 lakh crores have been written off by the public sector banks during the last nine years but this government is not ready to write off debts of peasants,” he added.