The Maharashtra government will soon enact a law to tackle Naxalism on the lines of the controversial Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA).
State Home Minister Eknath Shinde said discussions with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray are in the final stages, and the Maharashtra Public Security Act will soon be introduced to deal with the menace of Naxalism. “The Chief Minister has already given a clearance to introduce the Act, which will be on the lines of the law in Chhattisgarh,” Mr. Shinde said.
The CSPSA 2005, also called the Chhattisgarh Vishesh Jan Suraksha Adhiniyam, has been in the news after civil society groups pointed out its “regular misuse” against activists protesting government “high-handedness”.
The People’s Union for Democratic Rights has said provisions of the Act authorise the police to detain anybody for committing acts with a “tendency to pose an obstacle to the administration of law”. The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative has said the definition of “unlawful activities” imperils free exercise of fundamental freedoms laid out under Article 19 of the Constitution, and appears to restrict the right to hold public meetings.
Mr. Shinde said the decision to bring in such a legislation was taken following a meeting of senior officials from Naxal-affected areas, including those in Gadchiroli. The Minister said that during his tour of the Naxal areas in Maharashtra, he found development work was being hindered by protests. He thus ordered that a body like the Border Roads Organisation be set up to carry out road works under trying circumstances.
The CSPSA also imposes certain restrictions on media reporting in conflict areas. The Act bars the media from carrying reports of any kind of “unlawful activities” in the State. Following the enactment of the law, the International Federation of Journalists had appealed to the President not to give his assent to such an “undemocratic legislation”.