Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) was approved
and became Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) in a
special Joint session of the Indian Parliament in
March 2002, the fears and apprehensions about it have
been confirmed. The governments of Tamil Nadu,
Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh have reportedly used the
law to settle political and other scores.
The POTA was
earlier applied against those accused in the Godhra
incident where a train with Hindu pilgrims returning
from Ayohya was set on fire. However, the Government
had to withdraw it and replace it by an act of
Parliament. The State Government was apparently
concerned that eight of the 131 accused earlier
arrested had secured bail from the local or the
Gujarat High Court on various grounds. The use of the
POTA appears to be aimed at preventing any further
granting of bail in the conspiracy case that rocked
Gujarat and in its aftermath, widespread riots took a
toll of over 1,000 people last year.
Most of those
arrested are either farmers, students or daily wagers.
One hundred and fifty-eight of them are being held in
provide the exact number of POTA arrests, State Home
Secretary J.B. Dubit says the number of detainees is
"increasing every day" and "difficult
to keep track of." In fact, he justified the
arrests of students and farmers.
According to him,
most of the arrests have taken place in the Palamu
region of the state, where Naxalites from the banned
Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) have a strong base. The
majority of those arrested under POTA in Jharkhand
are Dalits and tribals.
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