Oppose the move to set up the National Investigation Agency!
On December 17, 2008 the Lok Sabha passed two bills – the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) Amendment Bill 2008 and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Bill 2008. These bills were passed following orchestrated demands raised by the most reactionary sections of the bourgeoise and by its main political parties, the Congress and the BJP, for “tougher laws to deal with terrorists” and for setting up a single centralised agency to investigate terrorism-related crimes.
The bill amending the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) expands the period of preventive detention from 90 days to 180 days. The definition of terror encompasses “militancy, insurgency and Naxal extremism”. Police custody for 30 days, denial of bail if the police makes out any kind of case, blanket denial of bail to foreigners, are some features of amended law. It allows police officials to arrest, search on “suspicion” anyone without the need for warrant, and seize their properties. A person can be arrested for not “disclosing information” to the police!
The bill to amend the UAPA says that “the court shall presume, unless the contrary is shown, that the accused has committed an offence for which he has been arrested”; in other words, that a person shall be presumed to be guilty until he can prove that he is innocent. At the same time, the police need not even inform the families of those arrested, so that the question of the person trying to prove his or her innocence does not even arise.
While various sections of the bourgeoisie have raised the call for increasing attacks on the rights and liberties of people time and again, right through the four and half years of UPA rule, it has met with opposition from wide sections of the people. The bourgeoisie has now used the Mumbai terror attacks and earlier terror attacks in other major cities, to push through its agenda.
It is clear that the UAPA is a thoroughly fascist piece of legislation, aimed at crushing the voice of dissent, and harassing and torturing definite sections of our society. Despite all the disclaimers by the government, it will be used to target people of the Muslim community, Bangladeshi migrants, revolutionary communists, all those opposed to the ‘development’ agenda of the big bourgeoisie, as well as all those who raise their voice in defence of the rights of the people. The bill is aimed at creating an atmosphere of terror amongst the people, so that people do not dare to even exercise their right to conscience, to express their views or beliefs, otherwise they could be locked up as potential terrorists. Sooner or later, this fascist legislation will also be used to target bourgeois political opponents by the party in power, as was done under TADA and POTA.
The experience of our people with POTA, TADA and numerous other draconian laws, clearly shows that they did not serve to reduce the incidents of terrorist attacks, even though those laws too were brought into force to allegedly deal more effectively with terror. Instead, they were used to viciously attack various sections of the working class and people, detain them without trial for long periods, torture and terrorise them, on most flimsy grounds, which in most cases did not even lead to their conviction.
It is the biggest fraud perpetrated on the working class and people that the Indian state is actually interested in ending the scourge of terrorism. Nothing can be farther from the truth.
It is well-known that all imperialist and bourgeois states regularly use the tool of terrorism to disorient the political opposition of the working class and toiling masses and to intensify the repression on the working masses. It is also used as a tool of agression on and destabilisation of other countries. The Indian state is no exception. Separately, as well as in league with the US imperialists, it is the main organiser of terrorism in South Asia.
A close study of terrorist incidents in different regions of our country show how the various agencies of the state, the bureaucracy, the intelligence and the armed forces as well as the imperialist agencies are closely linked to the various acts of terror that have been organised against the people.
National Investigation Agency — a tool to strengthen powers of the central state
The UPA government has justified the setting up of the NIA by saying that terrorism transgresses the borders of any one state and even the borders of the country, hence the central state must have powers to pursue terrorism related cases (though law and order is a state subject according to the Indian Constitution). The Bill makes it mandatory for the state government where the case is under investigation to extend all assistance and cooperation to the NIA. It envisages setting up of special courts to try terror-related cases. The Supreme Court will have the power to transfer a case from one special court to another.
The National Investigation Agency arms the central government to arrest people in a state, even if supposing for the sake of argument, that the particular state government refuses to implement the UAPA or arrest people under that act. POTA and TADA were used by state governments to not only attack the masses of fighting people, they were also used to attack all kinds of political opponents. Now the NIA will be used by the Centre, not only to attack the people of India anywhere, but also to target the political opponents of the party in power at the centre. NIA is thus a tool to strengthen the powers of the central government vis a vis state governments.
Terrorism and state terrorism in the name of ‘fighting against terrorism’, both serve the bourgeois ruling class and the imperialists. They help the bourgeoisie to carry on its unbridled exploitation of the working masses and crush any opposition to its rule, to consolidate its hegemony within the country and its geo-political interests abroad. Especially at the present time, when the capitalist-imperialist economic order is in a severe crisis and every attempt is being made to safeguard the capitalists’ profits and push the burden of the crisis onto the backs of the working people, when the system of parliamentary democracy is suffering from a great crisis of credibility, organising terrorist attacks is very useful for the ruling class and the imperialists.
No amount of strengthening of the state apparatus, no amount of ‘centrally coordinated investigation’ will end the threat of terrorism. To expect the bourgeois state to find out the real truth behind the organising of terrorist crimes and to punish the real organisers and perpetrators is to expect the hangman to tighten the noose around his own neck.
Terrorism can be ended only when the working class and people take political power in their own hands and use that power to severely crush all those who commit such heinous terrorist crimes against the people. With political power in their hands, the working class and people will march towards a new system in which democratic rights and liberties, including the right to conscience, will become a reality for the masses of working people.
Dealing with the development of fascism, Georgi Dimitrov wrote:”before the establishment of a fascist dictatorship, bourgeois governments usually pass through a number of preliminary stages and adopt a number of reactionary measures which directly facilitate the accession to power of fascism. Whoever does not fight the reactionary measures of the bourgeoisie and the growth of fascism at these preparatory stages is not in a position to prevent the victory of fascism, but, on the contrary, facilitates that victory.”
The amendment to UAPA and the NIA have been passed in parliament with little or no opposition. The bourgeoisie has used the charged atmosphere it has created following the Mumbai terror attacks, to push through these anti-people legislations. It is extremely important that the communists, working class and people vigorously unite and oppose these attacks.