Kerala CM on back foot over detention of two youth under UAPA
Under fire from Leftists over the killing of four Maoists in an alleged encounter last week and slapping the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) on two CPI (M) workers for distributing Maoist pamphlets, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday said the government will not allow misuse of the law.
During a discussion in the assembly on Monday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan critcised the opposition and others saying they were “trying to give a clean chit to Maoists”. He reiterated that commandos opened fire when they were challenged.
But faced with mounting pressure, he later said, “The government will examine the UAPA issue and take a suitable decision later.”
The killings and the arrests have left many in Kerala angry, especially Left intellectuals and supporters. They have also created fissures in the ruling Left front. The CPI has slammed the encounter and criticised the police decision to slap UAPA on two young party activists two days ago giving enough ammunition to the Congress-led opposition. In the assembly many Left lawmakers now find it difficult to contain the opposition which repeatedly embarrassed the treasury benches citing the position of the CPI.
CPI assistant secretary Prakash Babu, who visited the encounter site last week, had alleged that one of the Naxal leaders Manivasagam was captured alive and executed by commandos later. “The autopsy report says both his legs were fractured. Some of the tribals told us the ailing leader was captured and executed the next day. The video released by the police was fake,” he said.
Four Naxalites, including high-ranking leader Manivasagam, were killed in Palakkad forests last week in an encounter with special force commandos, called Thuderbolts. As the controversy over the encounter raged, two CPI(M) workers were arrested in north Kerala’s Kozhikkode last Saturday and charged under the UAPA which further ruffled more feathers in the dominant party of the Left front government.
Though politburo member M A Baby and many senior leaders criticised the decision police still maintain that arrested were “urban Naxals” a term coined by rightist forces. Police claimed that one of the arrested was in their dragnet for five years.
Parents of the two men arrested - Taha Fazal and Alan Shuhaib – insist that they were innocent and charges against them were trumped up.
“My son never supported any extremist ideology. It seems somebody must have handed over these posters to him. Police have jumped to a conclusion without verifying facts,” said Alan’s mother Sabitha Madathil. But in the court, the police maintained that UAPA charges will remain and decision on the bail plea of the two men was later deferred to Wednesday. Hailing from a Communist family both the arrested men are CPI (M) party branch committee members.
Many film personalities, writers and activists have also condemned the decision to slap UAPA on the two men. Director Adoor Gopalakrishnan, writer Satchithanandan, actor Joy Mathew and others said they never expected such a decision from the Left front government.
“We hope the government will withdraw such a notorious act,” said Gopalakrishnan.
Interestingly the BJP has supported the government decision. “It is sad some people are white-washing Maoists,” said minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan.