Tripura violence: Delhi based advocate booked under UAPA, NHRC sought report from state government

News Desk: Tripura Police on Wednesday booked an advocate under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for allegedly sharing fake information, on social media, on the recent violence in Panisagar, where a mosque, few houses and shops were reportedly vandalised by activists of Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

The state police registered the case against Mukesh, a Delhi-based advocate for the People’s Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL), for allegedly “promoting enmity among two religious groups as well as provoking the people of different religious communities to cause breach of police”.

The case was filed under Section 13 of UAPA, besides various sections of the Indian Penal Code.

Asking the advocate to appear for questioning by November 10, police, in its notice, said: “During the investigation, your involvement has been found in connection with the case. As such, there are reasonable grounds to ascertain the facts and circumstances relating to the case”

The police also directed the lawyer to remove the alleged posts on social media.

The police move came hours after it booked 71 people and filed five criminal cases over alleged fake and provocative posts on social media aimed at disturbing peace and communal harmony in the state.

A mosque, a few houses and shops were reportedly vandalised by activists of Vishwa Hindu Parishad during their rally on October 26. While four people were arrested in this regard, police later said that no mosque was burnt and photographs showing the same were not from Tripura.

“Strict action shall be taken against those persons who are trying to create hatred in the society” the state police said in a tweet.

A senior police officer requesting anonymity said that the five cases were filed for allegedly spreading rumours on social media platforms on the issue of recent communal violence incidents in Tripura.

“Preliminary investigations revealed that fake pictures and videos were uploaded on social media to tarnish the image of the government and the state police” the officer added.

The police appealed to people “not to like or retweet provocative posts since it amounts to rumour-mongering”.

Fake news is being circulated that a mosque in Kakraban area of Gomati district has been damaged and vandalised, the police tweeted. “This is a complete misrepresentation of facts. The mosque in Dargabazar area of Kakraban is completely fine & Gomati police is working to maintain peace and tranquility” they added.

The cybercrime department of the state police, while replying to a tweet, said, “These are fake videos being circulated under criminal conspiracy to disturb the peace and communal harmony in the state and defame the state government and police. Police has registered criminal cases and suitable action against the fake rumours is being taken expeditiously”

Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) sought an action taken report from the Tripura government on the October 26 violence.

The human rights panel also sought the report, within four weeks, from Tripura chief secretary, DGP Tripura police and secretary of Tripura state human rights commission on the alleged rise in political violence in the state on the basis of a complaint filed by Trinamool Congress national spokesperson Saket Gokhale.

In his complaint, Gokhale alleged that leaders and workers belonging to the TMC were attacked, during poll campaigns, by those belonging to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state. In one such incident, one sitting Parliamentarian and TMC workers were injured and their vehicles vandalised, the complainant added.

Gokhale further referred to the October 26 violence in Panisagar, where a mosque and two shops were reportedly set on fire during a rally organised by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).

“… post such incidents, there is an atmosphere of immense fear among the members of that community in the area with regard to their life and safety. The complainant is seeking intervention of the Commission in the matter” the letter said.

Taking note of the TMC spokesperson’s complaint, the NHRC, in its order, said: “The Commission has considered the complaint and directed its Registry to transmit the copy of the complaint to the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Tripura and the Director-General of Police, Tripura to submit an action taken report within a period of four weeks”

“The concerned authorities shall also intimate the Commission, if any notice, order etc., has been received by him/them in the instant matter from the State Human Rights Commission? If yes, a copy of such order is also sent to the Commission within four weeks. Let a copy of the complaint be also transmitted to the Secretary of the concerned State Human Rights Commission, calling upon him to inform this Commission the date of cognizance, if any, taken at their end in the instant matter within four weeks” it added.

Last week, the Tripura high court had taken cognisance of the violence and sought a detailed report from the state government by November 10. The report, however, is yet to be submitted, according to people aware of the developments.

The state government on October 29 said that a group with vested interest from outside had hatched a conspiracy against the administration to create unrest in Tripura and malign its image by uploading fake photographs of a burning mosque on social media.