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25 May 2017

The trial and conviction of six persons by the Court of Sessions Judge, Gadchiroli, sentencing GN Saibaba, Maheshi Tirki, Pandu Narote, Prashant Rahi and Hem Mishra, to life imprisonment and Vijay Tirki to ten years, is an unconcealed example of a political trial of an ideology and an organization under the draconian UAPA. The six accused have been convicted for being members of the banned organization, the CPI (Maoist), hence held guilty for conspiracy against the state without any evidence of them having committed any physical crime to further that ‘conspiracy’. They have been charged under S 13 [Punishment for unlawful activities], S18 [Punishment for conspiracy], S20 [Punishment for membership of a Terrorist Organization or Gang], S38 [Offences relating to membership of a terrorist organization], S39 [Offences relating to support given to a terrorist organization] of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and S 120 B of IPC [Punishment of criminal conspiracy]. While those in power use the law to penalize a ‘conspiracy’ against them, the Gadchiroli judgment reveals how UAPA is a weapon that in fact allows the Government to enter into a conspiracy against those who dissent or have political differences with it. The banning of such organizations, proscribing their literature, punishing membership ensures that information about the war that the state is waging on its own people, and politically dissenting views of such organizations are suppressed under the guise of punishing “terrorist acts” and terrorist organizations.

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