Tripura Violence: Police sends UAPA notice to lawyers for social media posts relating to fact finding on communal violence

The West Agartala police station in Tripura have sent a notice to Delhi based lawyer Mukesh and Advocate Ansar Indori of the National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations (NCHRO), informing that a case has been registered against them under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Both the advocates were part of a recent fact-finding team to Tripura.

Mukesh and Indori are charged with several sections of IPC including, 153-A and B, 469, 503, 504 and 120B.

A team comprising of Supreme Court lawyer Ehtesham Hashmi, Advocate Amit Srivastav from Lawyers for Democracy, Advocates Ansar Indori and Mukesh, on behalf of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) released their findings on the communal violence against Muslims in Tripura, at Delhi’s Press Club on Tuesday. The UAPA notice sent to Indori and Mukesh requested them to “immediately delete these fabricated and false statements/comments made/circulated by you in the social media.”

It has further directed them to appear before the West Agartala Police Station by the November 10.

Advocate Mukesh told The Leaflet that the UAPA notice was addressed to him as part of the PUCL. “From 30th October 2021, to 1 November 2021, we were part of a fact-finding team that went to Tripura to look into the reports of communal violence flaring up in the state. I merely shared on social media what we saw. We held a press conference in Delhi, and thereafter did a Facebook Live of the event. I think they had an issue with this Facebook Live”, Mukesh said.

Bengaluru-based lawyer and AILAJ member, Clifton D’Rozario described the UAPA notice as part of a larger pattern of intimidation.

Samriddhi Sakunia, a freelance journalist, who has been live-tweeting and sharing news of the communal violence in the state, tweeted earlier on Thursday that the “Tripura Police is really trying hard to nab down people who are talking about the Tripura violence.” She also noted how the police was checking her claims on social media instead of going after the culprits of the riots.

The Tripura police on Wednesday reportedly booked 71 persons for allegedly provocative social media posts. The Tripura High Court had also taken suo motucognizance of the violence and asked the state government to submit a report by November 10.

The Court also directed the state to take action against social media platforms to ensure that “false, fictitious, and/or fabricated news articles or visual footages do not come onto the social media platforms.”

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