Journalist Shyam Meera Singh and other activists arrested by the Tripura police under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) have petitioned the Supreme Court on Tuesday to quash the first information report filed against them.
Singh said that the BJP-led Tripura government charged him with UAPA for tweeting, “Tripura is burning.”
Tripura Police had arrested 102 social media account users on UAPA, criminal conspiracy, and forgery charges. They had placed letters to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube authorities to freeze such accounts and provide all account holders’ information.
According to reports, at least 12 mosques, nine stores, and three Muslim residences were vandalised in Tripura amid protests over violence against Hindus in Bangladesh during and after Durga Puja in October.
The police, on the other hand, have said that social media users exaggerated the reports and that security officers moved quickly to contain the situation. Four Delhi-based counsel who visited the state as part of an independent fact-finding team were charged under Section 13 of the UAPA (any unlawful action is punishable by up to seven years in jail and a fine) and different sections of the Indian Penal Code.
Meanwhile, the Editors Guild of India condemned the filing of charges under the UAPA against 102 persons, including journalists, for reporting and writing about communal violence in Tripura in October. The filing of UAPA lawsuits against journalists has been termed as a “very alarming trend” by the journalist body. While the Congress asked that the cases be dropped immediately, the CPM called the police action an interference by the government.
On October 29, the state government claimed that a group from outside with vested interests plotted against the administration to sow discord in Tripura and tarnish its image by posting phoney photos of a burning mosque on social media following the October 26 event.