GUWAHATI: Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb’s directive to the state police chief VS Yadav to review the cases filed against 102 people, including journalists and lawyers, under a terror law is being viewed in the state as an attempt to save his face.
On November 6, the police had booked the people, including 68 Twitter users, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and other IPC sections for sharing “objectionable news items/statements” on the alleged anti-Muslim violence in the state. The police had also written to various social networking sites seeking to block these users.
It was learnt Yadav asked an additional director-general of police to review the cases.
Observers, who follow Tripura politics closely, said the CM was trying to save his face.
“The Supreme Court had directed the state government to not take any coercive action against three people – a journalist and two lawyers – who had filed a joint petition. So, what can the government do? It was loss of face for the chief minister, so he is taking a U-turn,” an observer told this newspaper requesting anonymity.
He said if the government had been honest about the matter, it would not have delayed in going for a review. Opposition CPI-M echoed him.
“The Supreme Court had issued directions to the government to not go ahead because slapping UAPA by the police was not only unusual but also illegal. After this, the government’s move died down,” CPI-M leader Jitendra Chowdhury said.
He continued: “What the chief minister says now has no value. He is only trying to save his face.”
The police said the CM’s directive for a review did not mean the cases had been shut.
“We have not arrested anyone, not to talk of persons who went to court. So, there is no question of coercive action against anyone. We will go by the evidence,” a senior police official said.
Earlier, Delhi-based advocates Mukesh Gaur and Ansarul Haq Ansari and Tripura journalist Shyam Meera Singh had moved the Supreme Court.
Gaur and Ansari were members of a four-advocate team that visited Tripura on a fact-finding mission. The two of them had shared their findings on social media. Similarly, Singh had tweeted: “Tripura is burning.”
The filing of the cases against the people under UAPA had triggered an outrage. The Editors Guild of India had expressed shock and demanded a fair and impartial inquiry into the circumstances leading to the violence.
The violence broke out during a rally taken out by Vishwa Hindu Parishad in protest against the attacks targeted at the Hindus in Bangladesh.