IMPHAL, Aug 17: Manipur still has the maximum number of militant outfits, declared ‘Unlawful Associations’ under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 in the country for the current year.
At least seven groups in Manipur including the PLA, UNLF, PREPAK, KCP among others have been declared unlawful, according to the Union home ministry order received by the Manipur government on August 14, an official source in the state home department said.
Mention may be made that of the 32 organisations dubbed as “terrorists” under the Government of India ordinance, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Ordinance 2004, 10 are from the northeast region, and of these 10, six are Manipur based, and all of them are valley based.
Interestingly, none of the Naga or Kuki underground organizations figure in the list, although for reasons best known to the government, four Khalistan organizations are included long after the Khalistan movement is claimed to have been put to rest.
The term “unlawful activities” in the context of the ordinance, it is obvious means basically “terrorist” and “insurgent” activities with secessionist agendas.
The sweep of the definition of some of the crucial terms, in particular “unlawful activities” and “unlawful association”, should be cause for alarm.
As for instance, clause (iii) of the definition of “unlawful activities” says it constitutes activities “which causes or is intended to causes disaffection against India.”
The worry should be, the looseness of the definition could also result in the looseness of interpretation, making it prone to become an excessive and disproportionate weapon against all legitimate criticism of the establishment.
Likewise, the term “unlawful association” is defined among others as an organization “which encourages or aids persons to undertake any unlawful activity…..”
The posture is tough. Penal measures for such activities include ” … if such act has resulted in the death of any person, shall be punishable with death or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”
Those who raise funds meant for these organizations “shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years but which may extend to imprisonment for life…”
This clause should be of relevance to the situation in which government employees are made to contribute a percentage of their salaries to various proscribe organizations, and businessmen and others forced to buy their peace by paying off the these organisations.
For harbouring members of proscribed organization the punishment is a minimum of “imprisonment for a term of three years which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”
Any person or business house guilty of these offences can also end up with their property and all other assets, including bank accounts, shares in companies, stock holdings etc forfeited to the government.
In all these cases of forfeitures, the transferee will be either the state government or the Central government, depending on the nature of the case.
Among the four clauses by which an association can be deemed as involved in terrorism is if it “promotes or encourages terrorism.”
A person who can be deemed to be involved or giving support to terrorism is one who “with intention to further the activity of a terrorist organization, addresses a meeting for the purpose of encouraging support for the terrorist organization or to further its activities.”
Not only would those raising money for the proscribed organization come under the Ordinance’s scanner but also those receiving benefits from their activities.
Hence, anybody who “receives money or other property, and intends that it should be used, or has reasonable cause to suspect that it might be used, for the purposes of terrorism” will be liable to a penalty of imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years, or with fine, or with both.”
Source: The Imphal Free Press