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SUPREME COURT directs Tripura police from acting against activist Samiullah khan in Tripura’s anti-Muslim violence case

India Tomorrow

NEW DELHI–The Supreme Court on Monday restrained the Tripura Police’s cyber cell from acting against activist Samiullah Shabbir Khan’s tweet on anti-Muslim violence in Tripura.

The SC bench of justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna put a stay on all the proceedings under the Tripura Police’s notice to Twitter that had asked the social media site to remove Khan’s tweet. The police had also asked Twitter to provide the activist’s IP address and phone number to investigate the criminal case against him. While delivering the verdict, Justice Chandrachud observed that talking about violence is different from contributing to violence.

Earlier in November, SC had directed the police not to take any coercive action against Supreme Court lawyers and a journalist, who were booked under the draconian UAPA law for their response to Tripura violence.

The Tripura Police, under the pretext of curbing ‘distorted and objectionable’ content related to the violence, had asked Twitter to suspend the accounts of several social media users and remove their posts. They have also registered an FIR against the social media users under UAPA and various
sections of IPC.

Malik Motasim Khan, General Secretary of Association of Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), which provided legal assistance to Samiullah Khan in this matter, said, “This case is a stark example and the latest addition of misuse of draconian laws like UAPA by the state against its citizens for merely exercising their very fundamental right of speech and expression. UAPA not only infringes upon the rights of the individual but also instills fear in the minds of the masses to stop thinking and speaking freely.”

He further stated, “We have been on the forefront advocating for the repeal of draconian UAPA and in providing legal assistance to the accused facing cases under UAPA. We hope that today’s order will make our case strong in our petition pending in the Supreme Court since 2019 against the constitutional validity of UAPA. We firmly believe UAPA is deemed to be struck down or repealed, sooner or later.”

APCR is providing pro bono legal assistance to Samiullah Khan and many others through Advocate Sharukh Alam in the Supreme Court to avoid any arbitrary prosecution of more than 100 innocent persons for exercising their legitimate right of free speech.

Samiullah Khan has wholeheartedly welcomed SC’s order. “I am relieved to receive a favorable order from the honorable court upholding my rights. I am thankful to APCR and its office bearers for providing the much-needed legal representation and support in the court,” he said.

Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) National President Mohammad Salman Ahmad, who also faced a similar notice for his Twitter post about Tripura violence, said “The Supreme Court’s observations today highlight the absurdity of the case filed by the Tripura police. We have been saying from the very first day that the Tripura police is punishing conscientious citizens for speaking out against the anti-Muslim violence in Tripura, and the Supreme Court has rightly observed that talking about violence can never be equated with contributing to violence.”

He added, “We also feel that the court must go even further and rethink the whole concept of ‘Special Laws’ which have become nothing more than special weapons in the hands of the state to silence all questioning voices. In the Tripura case, the complicity of the police in letting the violence happen and then running a propaganda campaign to deny that it ever happened also needs to be investigated.”

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