The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) on Monday criticised Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on the floor of the Kerala Assembly over the arrest of two CPI-M youth workers and booking them under the Unlawful Activities Prevention (UAP) Act.
Two students of law and journalism, Allen Shuaib and Thaha Fazil — both full-time CPI-M members — were arrested on Saturday at Kozhikode after police recovered Maoist propaganda leaflets, besides material condemning the Union government’s action in Jammu and Kashmir from them.
Both of them were taken into custody, and after lengthy questioning, the police registered a case under UAPA. A court at Kozhikode remanded the two to judicial custody.
Taking on Vijayan, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said that a few years old videos of Vijayan where he is seen strongly attacking UAPA has now gone viral.
“And now see, the way your police has behaved when they took into custody two youths who are your own party members and have charged them under UAPA. Just look into the views that have come from your own party members and they have strongly attacked your own police for this. For fear of you, they have not spoken against you, but for the first time your own local party committee at Kozhikode, where the two youths hail from, have slammed you and the way you handled this case,” said Chennithala.
“Vijayan, you are behaving like Hitler,” said Chennithala.
Vijayan, however, hit back by recalling the way the Congress party in the past resorted to a declaration of Emergency, TADA and MISA to gag civil society.
Replying to senior Congress leader Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan’s demand for an adjournment motion on levelling of UAPA charges against the two youths, Vijayan said the police found leaflets, a mobile phone and a laptop in the house of the two accused but under no circumstances would UAPA be misused.
“A detailed probe is currently on and only after that will the charges be looked into and we will see if UAPA is maintainable. Please don’t forget that UAPA first came in 1967 and between 2004-14 when the UPA ruled the country, three amendments to UAPA was floated. And in 2019 when Union Home Minister Amit Shah further amended it, the only CPI-M Lok Sabha member from Kerala strongly opposed it, while 19 of the UDF members from Kerala voted alongside the BJP. It should also not be forgotten that eight cases registered when the UDF ruled ( 2011-16) under UAPA were cancelled by us. The Left has always taken a strong position against gagging the society and everything will be looked into carefully,” said Vijayan.
Meanwhile, the bail plea of the two youths came up before a court in Kozhikode and while the prosecution strongly opposed the bail, it demanded two days time to reply to the UAPA charges.
The court then posted the bail plea to Tuesday.
The mother of Allen, Sabitha Madathil told the media on Monday that it was foolish of the police to charge her son under UAPA.
“Ours is a family with a strong belief in the CPI-M and that’s our strength. Just because the police has done this, we are not going to take a stand against the CPI-M. I know my son and what he does, said Sabitha.
The brother of the other arrested youth (Thaha) said the story being propagated about his brother by the police was baseless.
“In custody, my brother was beaten up by the police and was threatened that he would be implicated in drug cases, said Thaha’ brother.