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Lok Sabha passes Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act Bill

New Delhi | A bill which seeks to allow an individual suspected to have terror links to be designated as a ‘terrorist’ known as  Unlawful Activites (Prevention )Amendment Act bill was today passed in the Lok Sabha.

The Amendment to Schedule 4 of the UAPA will allow the NIA to designate an individual suspected to have terror links as a terrorist. As of now, only organisations are designated as ‘terrorist organisations’. The amendments will also allow the NIA probe cybercrimes and cases of human trafficking.

Defending the amendments to an anti-terror lawUnion Home Minister Amit Shah said it was essential to keep law enforcement agencies one step ahead of terrorists. Responding to a debate on a bill which amends the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in Lok Sabha, he also asserted that anti-terror laws would not be misused and it would be used only to root out terrorism.

He also said that provision in UAPA (amendment) bill to designate a person suspected to have terror links as a terrorist is necessary to root out terror. Hitting out at the Congress for opposing the amendment, he said if the UPA was correct in amending anti-terror laws in their tenure, then so is the NDA.

He said, in the name of ideology, some people promote urban Maoism and the government has no sensitivity towards them. The government fights terrorism and it should not matter which party is in power, Shah said, referring to amendments made in anti-terror laws by successive governments.

Members of the opposition in the Lok Sabha also raised concern over amendments to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, saying the provisions were against the federal structure of the country.

The proposed law allows the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to go to any state without taking permission from state police concerned for checking anti-terror activities. This is against the federal structure of the country, Mahua Moitra (TMC) said during a debate on the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill 2019.

Opposing the Bill, she said when the NIA itself is under a cloud, there is also apprehension of the agency being misused for political vendetta. “Features of the Bill are anti-people and anti- Constitution…it is a very dangerous act,” she added.

During the debate, Moitra said, “One runs a risk of being branded as anti-national if you oppose the government”. “Every time the opposition disagrees with national security, we are called anti-national by the propaganda machinery and troll army of the government,” she said amid uproar from treasury benches.

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) is a law aimed at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India. Its main objective was to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India. The proposed amendment will empower the Director-General, National Investigation Agency to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is investigated by the NIA.

In 2018 in a major crackdown came in 2019 when Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson, Sudha Bhardwaj, Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha were arrested under the UAPA Act. The arrested activist were arrested for their alleged role in the Bhima Koregaon violence and conspiracy of the assassination of PM Modi were arrested under the UAPA Act.

With PTI inputs..

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