The Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC) has demanded the Tripura police to drop charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against a journalist. 

The IWPC slammed the Tripura police for booking a journalist, along with others, under the UAPA. 

The women’s journalists’ body said that the move of the Tripura police is an attempt to “intimidate and silence” the media. 

The Tripura police recently booked journalist Shyam Meera Singh, among others under the sections of UAPA. 

The IWPC said it was “shocked and dismayed” by the act of Tripura police of booking Shyam Meera Singh under sections of UAPA. 

“Singh has alleged that he has been booked for tweeting, ‘Tripura is burning’. It is a journalist’s job to inform, to highlight and present the true picture of events. It is not the journalist’s job to please people in power,” the journalist body said. 

Tripura police, on Saturday, had booked 102 persons, including journalist Shyam Meera Singh, under UAPA for social media posts on Tripura communal violence. 

Meanwhile, journalist Shyam Meera Singh said: “Tripura violence and UAPA on over a hundred Muslim youths don’t exist in Indian Media because This is one sided violence that was done by Hindu mob.”

He added: “For writing only these 3 words “Tripura is burning”, BJP Government of Tripura has imposed UAPA on me. I want to reiterate once again, I will never hesitate to stand up for justice. PM of my country might be a coward, We journalists are not.”

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “Pointing out that #Tripura_Is_Burning is a call for corrective action. But BJP’s favourite cover-up tactic is shooting the messenger. Truth can’t be silenced by #UAPA.”

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The Tripura police also served notices to the authorities of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to freeze their accounts and inform all particulars of those persons to it. 

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Earlier, the Editors Guild of India (EGI) also condemned the Tripura police’s action of booking 102 people, including journalists, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. 

The EGI said the government cannot use such stringent laws to suppress reporting on communal violence incidents. 

The Guild, in a statement, said it was “deeply shocked” at the police’s action against journalists and said it was an attempt by the Tripura government to deflect attention away from its own failure to control majoritarian violence. 

“The Editors Guild of India is deeply shocked by the Tripura Police’s action of booking 102 people, including journalists, under the coercive Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, for reporting and writing on the recent communal violence in the state,” the EGI said. 

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“This is an extremely disturbing trend where such a harsh law, where in the process of investigation and bail applications are extremely rigorous and overbearing, is being used for merely reporting on and protesting against communal violence. 

“The Guild is of the opinion that this is an attempt by the state government to deflect attention away from its own failure to control majoritarian violence, as well as to take action against the perpetrators of this. Governments cannot use stringent laws like UAPA to suppress reporting on such incidents,” it said. 

The EGI demanded that the state government conduct an objective and fair investigation into the circumstances of the rights instead of penalizing journalists and civil society activists. 

“Further, the Guild reiterates its earlier demand to the Supreme Court of India to take cognizance of the manner in which such laws are unjustifiably used against freedom of speech, and to issue stringent guidelines on charging journalist under them, so that these laws don’t become an easy tool for suppressing press freedom,” it said. 

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A mosque was vandalized and two shops were torched at Chamtilla in Tripura during a rally taken out by VHP activists on October 26 to protest against the communal violence in Bangladesh. 

“Some persons/organizations are publishing/posting distorted and objectionable news items/statements in Twitter regarding the recent clash and alleged attack upon mosques of Muslim communities in the state. In publishing these news items/ posts, the persons/organizations have been found using photographs/videos of some other incidents, fabricated statements/commentary for promoting enmity between religious groups/communities in presence of a criminal conspiracy,” Tripura police said in their notice to Twitter.  

Similar notices were also sent to Facebook and YouTube.  

The cases against the social media account holders were registered at the same West Agartala police station under IPC sections 153A (promoting disharmony or feelings of enemity), 153 B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 469 (forgery), 471 (fraudulently or dishonestly using as genuine a forged document), 503 (threatening), 504 (intentional insult) and section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 13 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). 

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