THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It was on Wednesday that the Supreme Court, while appointing a committee to probe the Pegasus snooping allegation, made it clear that the state cannot get “a free pass every time the spectre of national security is raised”. Ironically, the same day, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan chose to use the bugbear of national security to refuse to answer one of the simplest questions from an Opposition legislator on the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Answering to RMP leader K K Rema’s unstarred question on the number of people charged under UAPA during the previous term of his government and their details, Pinarayi said, “The details of accused in cases pertaining to national security and which are under consideration of special courts cannot be revealed.” The same replies were given two more times on the questions regarding the number of persons under trial in the state after being charged under UAPA and the time they have spent in jails.
The CM’s replies have raised many an eyebrow, especially after the Supreme Court granted bail to Thwaha Fasal, who is an accused in the Pantheerankavu UAPA case charged by Kerala Police initially, on Thursday. Dr Azad Malayattil, writer-cum-activist and convener of Alan-Thwaha Manushyavakasha Samithi, said like the Narendra Modi government, the Pinarayi-led government was using the bogey of national security as a cover for political purposes. He said the question raised by Rema was relevant as the LDF came to power promising that they won’t register UAPA cases. By denying an answer, the government is accepting that they are doing what the Modi-led NDA government is doing at the Centre.
“When such a question is raised, the answer one expects from the CM, going by the LDF’s earlier promise, is that there are no UAPA cases. Or the government should be able to say that it hasn’t used UAPA in political cases. But Pinarayi cannot give such an answer. In fact, after the UAPA amendment, the first arrest was recorded in Kerala -- that of Alan and Thwaha,” Azad said.
Azad said the details that the RMP legislator sought do not fall in the category of classified information and it was deplorable that the CM chose to hide even such an information from the members of the assembly. Activist and noted journalist B R P Bhaskar said the CM handled the question on UAPA in the same manner the Modi government handled the Pegasus issue. It also revealed the contradictory position of the CPM regarding the use of UAPA, he said. “The CPM central leadership is against UAPA. But the state government is in a defensive position regarding the draconian Act. This dilemma is evident from the CM’s response to the UAPA question,” he said.