Kerala

Police back-pedal on UAPA charges against CPI(M) youths

Operation ends: Commandos of the Kerala police carrying the body of a Maoist from the forest on Friday.

Operation ends: Commandos of the Kerala police carrying the body of a Maoist from the forest on Friday.  

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They seek legal opinion on the case; senior officials deliberate on whether to oppose bail for Alan Suhaib and Thaha Fazal

The State police on Sunday appeared to back-pedal on its decision to push ahead with the UAPA charges slapped on two young CPI(M) workers arrested on suspicion of Maoist links in Kozhikode on Saturday.

In a bid to disentangle themselves from the controversial move that has put the Pinarayi Vijayan government in a spot, senior officials said the FIR registered against the students by the Panthirankavu police was now the subject of a legal review.

The police decision to foist UAPA charges on the youths had drawn criticism from within the CPI(M) and alienated the CPI, a significant partner in the ruling LDF coalition.

Senior officials deliberated on whether the police should oppose the bail of the youth in court or seek their custody for further interrogation, given the politically touchy nature of the case.

Commissioner of Police, Kozhikode, A.V. George, who authorised the UAPA arrests as the District Police Chief, was at the station purportedly to evaluate the “evidence and circumstances” that resulted in the arrest of Alan Suhaib and Thaha Fazal.

Circumstances murky

Meanwhile, the circumstances of the arrest of the youths remained murky. Preliminary reports suggested that the police detained them early Saturday when they allegedly attempted to rendezvous with a point person for Maoists.

The youth had reportedly told the local magistrate that the police had harassed them in custody and coerced them to incriminate themselves as left-wing extremists.

An official said any move to further prosecute the students would hinge on identifying their elusive contact who gave the police the slip.

Officials privy to the investigation said the youth were under covert surveillance for long.

The political programme of the CPI(Maoist) to extend the proscribed organisation’s sway among urban youth might have swayed them or kindled their curiosity.

However, preliminary legal opinion received by the State police reportedly found no grave offence or activity that warranted prosecution under UAPA.

Maoist literature

Mere seizure of Maoist literature or commiserative comments in support of their political programme did not reveal a cognisable offence that attracted the provisions of the UAPA, a harsh law with diminished scope for bail, officials said.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 1:14:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/police-back-pedal-on-uapa-charges/article29871808.ece

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