Bhangar’s anti-land acquisition movement and the Darjeeling unrest saw 12 cases registered under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). But the bulk of the cases related to offences against the state (a total of 167) — which includes sedition, cases under Prevention Of Damage To Public Property Act (PDPP), UAPA and the Official Secrets Act — came from those lodged under PDPP.
As many as 90% — 151 in absolute numbers — of the cases under offences against the state were registered for damaging public property. In this category, 2017 saw the highest number in four years: there were 99 in 2014, 148 in 2015 and 102 in 2016.
There was also one sedition case. Police sources said it related to the arrest of IS operative Mohammad Moisuddin, alias Musa, arrested by the state CID. The top operative of Bangladesh-based terror outfit Jammat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB) revealed that IS had planned to carry out terror attacks in the eastern part of the country, and had targeted foreigners at Kolkata’s Mother House, apart from carrying out lone-wolf attacks on foreign tourists in Kashmir.
The situations in both Bhangar and Darjeeling — which caused the 12 UAPA cases — were both protracted. The agitation at the former lasted 18 months. The violent stir, which started in January 2017, witnessed violent attacks and damage to government vehicles. The other related to the 104-day agitation in the Darjeeling Hills, which started in June 2017 and continued till September.
What comes as a surprise to Special Task Force (STF) and NIA officers in Bengal is that although there were some high-profile terror arrests in 2017, they don’t show up in the year’s NCRB data. “A number of operatives from the JMB, the neo-JMB and the Ansarullah Bangla Team were nabbed in 2017. All of them were charged with, among other things, sedition,” said an officer. “We understand these will be reflected in the later figures, when the charge-sheets are filed,” said a senior officer.
“The lack of sedition cases in Bengal is primarily due to the effective control of Left-wing extremism,” he added. “In 2017, not a single case was registered against Left-wing extremism, which had been plaguing the state for a decade-and-a-half before it. This is a result of a three-pronged approach: development of affected zones, zero tolerance for illegal and anti-national activities and outreach.”
According to the data, Haryana tops the list in offences against the state, with 2,576 cases registered, followed by Uttar Pradesh (2,055) and Tamil Nadu (1,802). According to the report, only four persons were convicted for sedition in 2017, although 228 persons were arrested on the charge across the country.
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