The BJP-led coalition is converting India into a police state in which legislation bypasses Parliament and targets ordinary citizens especially minorities.
Using the September 11 attacks in America as an excuse in October 2001, POTO-I was passed by Ordinance. Its predecessor, TADA was passed in 1987 due to the Punjab crisis controversial.
Controversy ensued on POTO. POTO-I was not approved by Parliament. In January 2002, POTO-II surfaced again by Ordinance along with three minor changes. But, the story does not end there. Now, we have the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act, 1999, (MACOCA) which has been extended to Delhi.
POTO-I, POTO-II and the MACOCA have all been enacted or extended without reference to the Legislature.
So, after POTO-II we now have MACOCA. There are extended provisions for phone tapping by the Superintendent of Police (Section 14-16). `Big Brother’ has arrived in the form of the Delhi Police. MACOCA signals the death of civil liberties in every conceivable sense to allow the police to go on a rampage while limiting and tying down the powers of the courts to provide relief and effective oversight. .
The offences provisions are too harsh. Pre-trial custody could extend to 180 days. Denial of bail is inevitable. The admissibility of confessions to the police is an invitation to brutality. Virtually anyone and everyone fall within the definition of a `terrorist’ or `organized criminal’.
Once trapped under these statutes, a person stands to forfeit several years of his life and his properties even if eventually proven innocent. As it is, the SIMI ban in Gujarat has led to arbitrary arrests. SIMI like Muslim groups will be specially targeted.
Using the excuses of the Afghan war, the global anti-terrorism mood and the attack on Parliament, the BJP-led national coalition is converting India into a police state in which legislation bypasses Parliament and targets ordinary citizens with arbitrary police action for the rest of the duration of this Government.
I request immediate withdrawl of POTO because the possibility that the authorities might misuse it has increased enormously. The principal targets of the misuse are Indian Muslims. All secular Indians must oppose such selective misuse.