Sunday, 2 October, 2022
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Nothing wrong with Amit Shah’s new UAPA. Congress must decide if it wants India to be secure

Home Minister Amit Shah’s resolve against terrorism echoes the sentiment of India's majority, which wants a safe and secure environment in society.

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The new amendments to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in Parliament wasn’t without opposition, even though Home Minister Amit Shah put up a strong defence. But it would be a travesty to project the passing of this amendment merely as a tussle between a weak opposition and a strong ruling party.

Not only was the Congress party’s deliberate and selective amnesia on display, but more importantly, it once again missed the opportunity to show that it can play a greater role in national integration and the fight against terrorism like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). There will always be Left-oriented fringe elements prodding the Congress party to pick up a fight against the BJP. Such a stand will take the 134-year-old party to further disintegration and oblivion.

Opposition’s baseless charges

The opposition has called the amendment bill “draconian” but the Modi government’s contention holds water. A quick analysis of the nature of terror attacks and the methods used will reveal the changing nature of these dastardly incidents. The world has witnessed a rise in what is now commonly referred to as ‘lone wolf’ attack – one that is carried out by an individual motivated by radical ideology or extremist views. India’s former home minister (and now defence minister) Rajnath Singh had last year referred to the ‘do it yourself’ and ‘lone wolf’ “kind of terror attacks (as) a major challenge for us (the government) and for security agencies”.

Moreover, opposition members like Mahua Moitra questioned the amendment’s rationale without really doing any homework. Set up in 1961 by the first Prime Minister of India, It was the National Integration Council, set up in 1962, which had unanimously recommended enacting a strong law aimed at effectively preventing activities considered unlawful and detrimental to the unity, integrity, and sovereignty of the country. Laws to curb violence against SC/ST and women and minorities were recommended but terrorism did not find a place in this list as it was not as much a threat then as it is today.

Also read: Individuals & ‘urban Maoists’ terrorists under UAPA: Will it unleash new witch hunt?

Also, the Constitution (Sixteenth Amendment) Act, 1963, which was passed by both Houses of Parliament in 1967 during the Congress’ reign under former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, had imposed heavy restrictions on freedom of speech and expression, right to assembly, and even the fundamental right to form associations or unions. Strangely, the opposition had protested then but was unable to prevent the passage of the Bill, which was considered an attack on citizens’ democratic rights.

Little wonder then that Home Minister Amit Shah read out the riot act to the protesting Congress members in Parliament and reminded them that it was their own towering leader who had first brought this ‘draconian’ law.

The opposition’s another charge – that the amendments are against the federal structure of India – also falls flat as some non-BJP state governments (for instance, in Chhattisgarh) favour a strong law to tackle the Naxal-Maoist menace, which affects economic growth and development, and challenges the authority of the duly elected state government. Even after more than 70 years of Independence, there are areas in the Naxal-affected districts where the writ of the government does not run.

Salwa Judum, the anti-Naxal movement that mobilised local tribal youth was the brainchild of a Congress member, Mahendra Karma, who started it in 2005. The movement was put to best use by the BJP government under former chief minister Raman Singh. Ironically, it was individual Naxal sympathisers, often categorised as “urban Maoists”, who got the outfit banned by the Supreme Court Court and weakened the movement. The Naxalite operators regrouped and in 2013 mounted a fatal attack on Mahendra Karma and other members of the Congress party in Darbha Valley near Raipur, Chhattisgarh.

Also read: Amit Shah assures law will not be ‘misused’ as Lok Sabha passes anti-terror bill

Amit Shah echoes majority view

The home minister’s resolve echoes the sentiments of the majority of the people who want a safe and secure environment in society. “The only purpose of this law is to root out terrorism”, Amit Shah told the House, which ideally should have been welcomed by the opposition.

The only issues where the government needs to heed to the opposition are matters concerning the misuse of the amended provisions and speedy judicial decisions. The amended law does put unrestricted powers in the hands of the police and other law enforcing agencies. Many times, these agencies not only lack coordination but may even end up working against each other. The dangers of turf rivalry should not be allowed to influence the decisions of the government while it is trying to maintain law and order.

Corruption in some of the arms of executive and a section of the judiciary is not unknown to the government or the political parties. Often times, one or two corrupt individuals can bring disrepute to the entire organisation or the government.

The home minister needs to assure the country that strictest possible action will be taken to root out terrorism and terror modules – either organised or driven by an individual. Amit Shah also needs to drive home the belief that no provision of the amended UAPA bill will ever be allowed to be misused either by those working under him or by any other ministry.

The author is the former editor of ‘Organiser’. Views are personal.

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  1. Congress can only decide “AGAINST” whatever the BJP government decides. ‘Good’ of the country can have nothing to do with it.

  2. This is obviously a terribly biased article, and rather than list the number of supposedly analytical points which are actually screamingly motivated and tendentious, let me just state this very short fact about Mr. Chari, for those who do not know him, from the article on him on Wikipedia (

    Chari is a veteran swayamsevak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Chari currently serves on the National Executive Committee of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and formerly served as head of the Foreign Affairs Cell at BJP headquarters.

    There. Hopefully that puts all of this article’s ‘analysis’ into perspective.

    • A question then to the The Print editors: Do you not think that Mr. Chari’s intimate affiliation with the RSS and the BJP, and the obviously partisan outlook that generates, needs to be mentioned somewhere in or near the article, seeing how pertinent it is to the reader’s acceptance (or not) of his ‘opinion’? Saying only that he is the former editor of ‘Organiser’ is a terrible cop-out, as though that were by any measure the most relevant background information about him.

  3. This new UAPA law is not to fight terrorism to protect the citizens, but to TERRORIZE the citizens. Who are you trying to fool, Mr Chari! This is the kind of law that empowers the state to – – on its whim – – “pick up anyone in the middle of night”. This is how anyone who resisted the State, mind you, not “terrorized the citizens”, but “resisted the State”, used to “vanish” during Stalin’s time. But what does “resisting the State* mean IN A DEMOCRACY??? Why don’t you guys simply admit that you are trying to create a STALIN’S INDIA???

    Why do we need such draconian laws? Aren’t the present ones enough to prosecute someone against whom there is AMPLE EVIDENCE? For example, even under the present laws, aren’t the few of those, I forget their names, one of them is one Mrs Bharadwaj, aren’t they all being tried? Won’t they be pronounced guilty if all that evidence is proved correct?

    The difference will be, that under the present law there will be no need to have “ample evidence”. On mere suspicion people will be booked on the very serious charge of terrorism. Won’t this tantamount to terrorizing the citizens?

  4. Any law that seeks to quell terrorism and unlawful activities aiming at destabilizing the civilized society cannot be draconian. In fact the boot is in the other leg. Terrorists choose their own targets, their own time and their own methodologies – mostly aiming at innocent people to wreck the society. They are in fact draconian. If Israel survives today as a powerful nation, amidst most hostile nations, it is because they not only called spade a spade – but gave its unscrupulous enemies with double dose. Its enemies were made to understand that they could never play foul with Tel Aviv except at the cost of their survival. We cannot be teaching Bhagawat Gita to terrorists. We must root them out lock, stock and barrel with iron hand – and without any mercy. There is no middle path. They understand only one language – the language they speak with AK 47. Carpet bombing on the terrorist hideouts in Pakistan and the PoK, merciless hunting their local handlers will help to obliterate the scourge of terrorism against this country. Remember the US went into Pakistan to eliminate Bin Laden. They destroyed Iraq to stamp out Saddam Hussein. We are not doing anything of that kind. We are just strengthening our own security system. In fact we are mild. Ii is for the Chinese to point out that we have not yet banned Jaish Chief while asking the world over to declare him an international terrorists. There are several chinks in our armour and we must plug those chinks.

    a,k, pattabiraman, chennai

  5. Drawing a line on who is a terrorist and who is not is difficult situation. An innocent can be caught and tried when real walk away without getting traced. Assurance of Home Minister is needed for effective use than mis-use, as our police force due to their own incapacity may catch innocent to please the political top brass for quick action. More important is media restraint in sensitive issues. At time our media go overboard on certain activities and start spinning stories creating rumor and panic in public.

  6. Agree to Mr Ashokk’ view in totality. But the innocent was kept in jail when the present law being discussed about was perceived to be less sringent. Does amendment to law being debated now is any way cause of punishing an innocent?

  7. We all want India to be safe. On issues pertaining to national security, both external and terrorism or serious crime at home, we trust the government. However, when we read about a Kashmiri Muslim being declared innocent after being in jail for 23 years, the heart trembles. People who speak up for civil liberties or human rights at a time when security threats are real can often be mocked or derided, but we should heed their concerns. The US media gave the Bush administration a free pass after 9 / 11, one of the factors that made the invasion of Iraq possible. Our police force needs to be professional, more than blunt and heavy.

    • Typical sicularist dishonest rant. The moderators at this site allow your silly posts but deny my rebuttals or yank the piece itself. Maybe you are the moderator?

      Bush invading Iraq is a comparison for what Indian government is doing internally? Jihadi Terrorism, ethnic cleansing of Pundits out of Kashmir are great examples of “civil liberties”?!

      And sicularists like you heavily promote Isolated, rare mistakes of Indian security and justice system!

      You are even suggesting our security forces are not professional when the media is filled with people like you, ever ready to fault them.

    • You are a shallow preacher masquerading as a serious reader. Your comments are razor thin, and rotten.

        • You are incorrigible ashok JI. Only request that try and be a little less biased even if you don’t read the full article and just vent out after reading the article. Spew a little less venom from your sharp as razor mind.

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