Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb on Saturday asked the Director-General of Police VS Yadav to review cases filed against 102 people, including lawyers and journalists, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, India Today reported.
According to the police, several fake photos and videos of a mosque burning in Tripura, along with provocative posts, had been shared from these 102 accounts.
The police have repeatedly claimed that no mosque was burned. The Ministry of Home Affairs too denied vandalism of mosques, calling the reports fake.
On Saturday, an unidentified official from the chief minister’s office said that the photos and videos shared from the social media accounts were fake and a part of the conspiracy to disturb the law and order in Tripura, The Indian Express reported.
“In order to bring the situation under control and maintain communal harmony, Tripura Police filed cases against 102 people, including some journalists and lawyers,” the official said.
On November 6, the Tripura Police had written to Twitter, asking it to suspend these accounts that allegedly spread such content. At that time, the police had filed cases against 68 accounts.
At that time, the Tripura Police had said that at least one post by a handle called IAM Council was allegedly linked to terrorists in Pakistan and was supporting Pakistan, The Indian Express reported.
The Indian American Muslim Council, which operates the handle, described the allegations as “baseless” and “defamatory”.
“In nearly 20 years of IAMC’s existence, no US law enforcement agency or any department of the US federal government or state governments or county administrations has ever investigated, leave alone accuse, IAMC of any wrongdoing or associating with any foreign government or its agencies or terror groups,” Rasheed Ahmed, the organisation’s executive director, said in an email message to Scroll.in. “No Indian law enforcement agency has ever accused IAMC or cited any evidence against it for alleged connections with any terrorist group.”
He added: “For nearly two decades, IAMC has steadfastly advocated to uphold India’s pluralist, secular Constitution inspired by the ideals preached and practised by Mahatma Gandhi...IAMC’s thousands of volunteers are proud of their Indian origin and have deep connections with India. It is preposterous to suggest that IAMC is anti-India.”
Meanwhile, the Editors Guild of India on Sunday said it will be sending a three-member fact-finding team to Agartala as it was concerned about the use of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act to stop the media from reporting about violence in Tripura.
Who are among the booked?
The accounts against whom the police have sought action include those of journalists Mohammad Sartaj Alam, Shyam Meera Singh and CJ Werleman, and former Aligarh Muslim University student leader Sharjeel Usmani.
Shyam Meera Singh, a journalist at NewsClick, said that the Tripura government has booked him under the UAPA for his social media post, in which he had said, “Tripura is burning”.
The police also booked two lawyers – Mukesh Kumar and Ansar Indori – under the UAPA, and sections of the Indian Penal Code dealing with promoting disharmony, forgery, intentional insult and criminal conspiracy. The lawyers were part of a fact-finding team that looked into the violence in Tripura.
The report, co-authored by Supreme Court lawyers Ehtesham Hashmi and Amit Srivastav, said the violence erupted because of the “irresponsibility of the administration, along with extremist organisations and the vested interests of ambitious politicians”.
Corrections and clarifications: This article has been updated to include a statement from the Indian American Muslim Council.