India Brings Back Draconian Law to Suppress Dissent

Vancouver, Canada: In Ludhiana, Punjab a special Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) court sentenced 12 Sikhs to a ten year imprisonment for a bank robbery case.  This case has been running for the past 25 years and though TADA expired in 1995, since the case was initiated under this Act it was used in order to carry out the sentence.

TADA was introduced in 1985 as an anti-terrorist law for temporary measures for two years however, the Act was continuously extended every two years until it lapsed in 1995 as a result of public and international discontent.  TADA is considered one of the most draconian laws ever to be passed by the Indian government as it allowed for the first time ever confessions of an accused in custody to be admissible as evidence.  With increased power in the hands of the police, torture become a normative measure to extract statements out of innocents.  One of the most controversial components of TADA was that the Act was introduced to combat terrorism however it never defined “terrorism”.  With an open-ended definition, TADA was used to arrest any individual speaking against the state and label them a terrorist.  The law was used to suppress student, worker and labourer dissent.

According to Canadian Sikh Coalition Spokesperson Moninder Singh, “the struggles of the Sikh community to achieve sovereignty from the Indian Union are highlighted once again with the ill-treatment and subjugation of these men.  How can we as the Sikh community truly be surprised with the actions of the central government? No form of justice has been provided for the genocide of Sikhs from 1984 onwards rather draconian laws such as TADA are re-used to violate the judicial system. Harsh sentences in cases like these are used to subjugate the voice of dissent and protest in political activists.  Would now not be the time to safely say that the Sikh community expects nothing from the Indian Union?  The Sikh community must continue to move forward by applying legal and diplomatic pressure on the Indian Union and not rely on the propaganda infested information and harsh “justice” being doled out through an already corrupt system.

The Canadian Sikh Coalition expresses solidarity with these men and will explore all legal and diplomatic channels to ensure that the injustice of this case is revealed to the world.  The draconian law TADA was lapsed as a result of public pressure and international discontent and there is no reason for this Act to be used in courts today.

Source: Canadian Sikh Coalition

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