Lucknow: In a damning expose that perhaps vindicates what activists have been claiming from all along about the National Security Act (NSA), an investigative report by The Indian Express has found that between January 2018 and December 2020, the Allahabad High Court (in Uttar Pradesh) quashed orders of district magistrates in as many as 32 districts, and ordered the release of the detainees who were arrested under the NSA.
The report, which examined police and court records, stated that between January 2018 and December 2020, the Allahabad High Court ruled in 120 habeas corpus petitions challenging preventive detention under the NSA, of which cow slaughter was the highest reason for invoking the NSA. It accounted for 41 cases, or more than a third of the total that reached the High Court, according to the Indian Express report, published on April 6.
More telling is the fact that all the accused involved in the NSA cases are from the minority community and were detained by the district magistrates based on first information reports (FIR) alleging cow slaughter. “In 30 of these cases — more than 70 per cent — the High Court came down heavily on the UP administration: it quashed the NSA order and called for the release of the petitioner,” stated the Express report.
District magistrates echoing each other? Predetermining accused’s crime?
One of the key findings of the Express report was that in cases relating to cow slaughter, records obtained showed that the district magistrates “virtually echo each other” to say that NSA was invoked as the accused had moved for bail and that their release was “imminent.” The DMs also cited that those accused persons would “again” indulge in “activities prejudicial to public order” if they were given bail.
The investigative report has added credence to what is widely believed until now: that the Uttar Pradesh government is blatantly using the NSA to target Muslims on false accusations of cow slaughter. The report said, that the UP government, run by BJP chief minister Ajay Singh Bisht, aka Yogi Adityanath, is using a “common playbook for the administration”, and that there are “several examples of cut and paste in the FIRs”.
Reacting to the investigative report, Hyderabad Lok Sabha member of Parliament and All India Majilis-e-Ittehadil Muslimeen supremo Asaduddin Owaisi said, “NSA is a draconian law that jails people without even a crime happening. UP CM has used it to jail Muslims & weaker sections on flimsy grounds, including cow slaughter. Using “C-word” pales in comparison to fake encounters, police atrocities & abuse of law that UP CM has overseen”.