How many people remember today Canadian-Syrian Maher Arar, a softward engineer, whose travails and tribulations at the hands of the US government’s extraordinary rendition programme had shaken many people then.
Just to recapitulate he was seized by CIA operatives during a stopover at New York in 2002 and was secretly sent to Syria.Lodged in a grave like cell in Syria, Arar was repeatedly tortured to extract information which he did not know. Ultimately his tormentors released him within a span of year and half without ever being charged with a crime. As we can gather Maher Arar became a victim of the Islamophobia manufactured by the likes of Bush-Blair in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.
All those people who are familiar with the stigmatisation and terrorisation of a people and a community in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 attack can recount many such stories of miscarriage of justice, innocents being lodged in jail for years together and the tragedies which befell their families.
The case of Maher Arar was unique in many ways in the sense that because of the tremendous uproar in the Canadian society over this issue, Stephen Harper, then Prime Minister of Canada sought public apology for the ordeal which Maher went through and for the role played by Canadian officials in the whole affair . Continue reading Can NaMo do a Harper – Yesterday Maher Arar, Today Akshardham Six !
“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
Sixteen year old Shahwan, from Ahmedabad, who is still waiting for his Class X results, was extremely happy that day, when India’s electorate gave its verdict. He hugged his Ammi and went out in his Mohalla along-with his brother Almas, yelling ‘we have won’, ‘we have won’. And not only Shahwan and his family members but one could witness similar joy in the houses of Mohammad Salim Hanif Sheikh, Abdul Qayyum Mansuri alias Mufti Baba and several others.
Interestingly Shahwan’s tremendous joy with tears flowing down the eyes of his Ammi Naseem (40) had nothing to do with the fact that Mr Narendra Damodardas Modi, had delivered a ‘historic victory’ to the BJP.
It was a strange coincidence that the day India’s electorate decided to give a mandate to the Modi led BJP to rule the country for coming five years also happened to be the day when Supreme Court of India in a historic judgment overturned a controversial decision take by him as home minister. It was related to the prosecution of those arrested for Akshardham attack under now lapsed Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). Continue reading Thinking About Adam Ajmeris in Saffron Times
Guest post by ANUJ BHUWANIA
Recently the clamour for a draconian terror bill came to fruition with rare alacrity. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment (UAPA) Bill was introduced and passed within two days by both houses of Parliament – quite a contrast to, say, the Women’s Reservation Bill, gathering dust now for more than a decade. Coming from a government that repealed POTA soon after it assumed power, the Bill unimaginatively mimics POTA almost entirely, revealing that little has been learnt from the recent history of TADA and POTA and the problems leading to their removal. While such statutes giving extraordinary powers to the police are introduced to cater to ‘exceptional’ situations, they can easily be deployed in ‘ordinary cases’ and indeed routinely are. The bleeding of one category into the other is inevitable, when the police alone decide which is which.
Continue reading UAPA: Legalising the police state
I have asked two colleagues who have been working on civil liberties in the war against terror to do an analysis of the Amendment to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the National Investigation Agency Act, and its implications. But in the meanwhile, here is a useful analysis by Rajeev Dhavan where he describes the amendment as a return of POTA and TADA. As if to fulfill Shuddha’s prophecies, the government according to Dhavan has created a law where everyone is suspect
After months in pre-trial detention under brutal investigation, the police will extract even untruths. The Bill casts a shadow on all of us. It is founded on the principle that everyone is suspicious or a suspect, with no fine distinction between the two. We are creating a suspicious state to empower suspicious officials and citizenry to act suspiciously against any supposed suspect. This Bill goes further than TADA or POTA in its creation of a suspicious state. India must fight terrorism, but the last thing India wants to be is a terrorist anti-terrorist state. – Rajeev Dhavan Continue reading Rajeev Dhavan on The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act
A phone in poll today on CNN-IBN’s Face the Nation:
Should human rights take a back-seat in favour of tougher terror laws?
65% say Yes!
Thus speaketh the great Indian middle-class- Enough is enough!
Continue reading Your Rights End Where My Terror Begins
Come September 2008, and the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) is now fifty years old in our country. It is a law in force in large parts of the northeast that gives armed forces special powers in a locality declared as ‘disturbed area’. However, while AFSPA is considered necessary by the state and army officials to protect the state against internal disturbances, to uphold the integrity of nation, to fight against terrorism and insurgency, and to protect sensitive border areas, it is being vehemently opposed and discarded by human rights groups, women’s organizations and political groups, as it is seen as facilitating grave human rights abuses, impunity, rape and torture, and silencing of democratic dissent. The Act has long been challenged internally through country-wide campaigns, coalitions, self-immolation, fast until death, and naked protests. It is also regularly referred to internationally, for example in the recently concluded UN Human Rights Councils’ Universal Periodic Country Review or in the previous Human Rights Committee, as an issue of serious concern.
Continue reading AFSPA – 50 Years of a Law