Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17

Ever since Punjab began using the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against Khalistani sympathisers, there has been only one conviction

The convicts — Jasvir Singh Jassa Manki of Barnala and Harjant Singh DC of Gurdaspur — out of nearly 400 persons booked under the UAPA, are also out on bail. An appeal against their conviction in a case of recovery of arms and ammunition in Nabha, Patiala, in 2010 is pending.

It’s been 11 years and the conviction rate is one per 100 cases. As per data available with lawyers, 47 cases under the UAPA were registered between 2009 and 2016. The cases more than doubled in the next four years even as the conviction rate slipped.

One of the acquitted persons, Narayan Singh of Chaura in Gurdaspur, 64, has even sued the police for false UAPA charges against him.

“The police even forged my signatures on the disclosure statements. I was booked in six cases under the UAPA, besides waging a war against the country. I have been acquitted in all and sought criminal proceedings against police officials who destroyed my life. I spent over five years in jail in these cases.”

Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, who is contesting most of the UAPA cases in Punjab, said the cases were a sham

“The police have booked and incarcerated several hundreds of youths on the basis of mere information that they were trying to indulge in violent acts in the name of Khalistan. In almost all cases, some arms and ammunition are shown as recovered, besides funding of the accused by foreign-based agencies. None holds ground before the court. It seems there is a deliberate attempt to conjure up such cases,” he claimed.

He added, “The UAPA is just another tool in the hand of police after the similarly dangerous POTA and TADA were abolished.”

Senior officials of the Punjab Police were not available for comments. “It is difficult to prove that the money received through legal channels was meant for terror funding. Then there are some loopholes in the investigation and above all the statement of the witnesses, police officials and civilians often have discrepancies leading to acquittal,” said an official.