SENZA CENSURA N.17
ABOUT ANTI TERRORISM LAWS IN INDIA
A letter by Indian political prisoners
April 11th 2005 - CPI(Maoist) political prisoners speak
India´s Prevention of Terrorism Act, part of a wave of repressive legislation that swept the world under the pretext of the events of 11September 2001, was repealed by parliament late last year after the elections. Yet under the simultaneously promulgated amendment to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), those being held under POTA charges can be tried under the old law, although these cases are to be reviewed over the next year.
As explained in the January 2005 issue of the Indian Maoist publication People´s March (www.peoplesmarch.com), "The Common Minimum Programme of the UPA government called for the repeal of POTA and utilising only the existing laws for fighting so-called terrorism. But, the amended UAPA expands the sections on definitions to include terrorist offences, and adds three new chapters dealing with punishment for terrorist activities, forfeiture of proceeds of terrorism and terrorist organisations. In other words the UPA government
has basically brought in the same definition of terrorist as the [previous] government. Besides,
most importantly, all the 32 organisations banned under POTA have also been banned under the amended UAPA... In addition the Act repealing POTA does not have any provision to prevent the use of confessions taken under POTA for any trial that is to be continued under other laws."
Twenty-six men and women arrested in the southern Indian states of Madras and Tamil Nadu under the POTA in November 2002 are still in prison awaiting trial.
They are supporters of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). They gave the following statement to the Second International Delegation to South Asia, organised by the World People´s Resistance Movement (Europe and South Asia), which returned to Europe after travelling through India from 10-30 March 2005 together with the delegates from South Asia. (See the 4 April AWTWNS news packet.) The statement has been slightly edited.
We prisoners under POTA have been lodged in the Central Prison, Chennai and Women´s Prison, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, since 24 November 2002.
We have been arrested and lodged in the prisons under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Terrorism Act 2002 (POTA).
Since we were arrested, the police personnel and judiciary of various courts including the Special POTA Court in Poonamallee, Chennai, and Tamil Nadu, India, do not adhere to mandatory legal procedures and the Constitution of India.
In our case, the vulnerable sections of the society, that is young women and two male juveniles, have not been spared these violations of human rights and democratic rights.
When we have repeatedly demanded that the police personnel and judiciary adhere to the mandatory legal procedures and the Constitution of India as well as human and democratic rights, either we have been treated inhumanly or simply ignored...
POTA is a draconian and black "act" violating all kinds of conventions and declarations of the UN on human rights and the Constitution of India.
In fact, the persons who are supposed to adhere more strictly to mandatory legal procedures and the Constitution of India than any other citizen, have been functioning in the manner of medieval lords... .
In this way they have held six young women and two male juveniles under POTA. Later at the intervention of the High Court of Madras, the male juveniles alone were discharged.
When Prabhakaran, one of the two male juveniles and son of the co-accused Mr Gurusami lodged with us in prison, filed a bail petition in Krishnagiri Sessions Court... at that time he was not held under POTA... All of a sudden, he also was detained under POTA.
When he protested in the court of POTA on 3 February 2003 (the day of the first appearance in court) that he had been ordered released on bail by the Krishnagiri Sessions Court, POTA judge Rajendran did not accept the bail order and ordered that the remand be extended [that he remain in prison]. Only after the intervention of the High Court of Madras was he released under bail granted by the Krishnagiri Sessions Court and his case and the case of the other juvenile, Bagath Singh, were transferred to the juvenile justice board, Salem.
Earlier, we were produced in the Harur judicial magistrate court on the day after we were arrested, some hours after the maximum 24-hour limit.
Prior to that, we were humiliated and harassed and our clothing was removed. Afterwards, we were abused physically, verbally and mentally. Even our parents were abused verbally in police custody.
We were allowed to be interrogated illegally in police custody by the magistrate on 9 December 2002, even though [we were being held in jail illegally due to the lack of a judicial remand].
This is a violation of the Criminal Procedure Code.
We were not allowed to consult a legal practitioner while we were kept in illegal police custody. We were compelled by coercion to give a confession statement. (Under POTA, confession given before police is admissible in law before the courts as per the new rules of evidence).
We have been languishing in jail since 24 November 2002 without any trial and bail... In order to get bail, we have to prove our innocence even before trial.
Male political prisoners in Chennai Central Prison:
1. Suresh; 2. Madhaiyan;. 3. Kumar; 4. Raja; 5. Dura; 6. Palani; 7. Krishnan; 8. Rav;i 9. Sathishkumar; 10. Sakthivel; 11. Sekhar; 12. Muthu; 13. Thangapandian; 14. Manivasagam; 15. Vinayagam; 16. Raja; 17. Balan; 18. Duraisingavel; 19. Martin; 20. Gurusamy.
Women Political Prisoners in the Special Prison for women, Vellore: 1. Padma; 2. Reeta Mary ; 3. Amalopavam; 4. Reena Joice Mary; 5. Deivanai; 6.Vijaya.