The Kerala High Court on Friday posted the bail plea of two youths who are presently in judicial custody under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for orders on November 14. Both are members of the ruling CPI-M. Allen Shuaib and Thaha Fazil, both students of Law and Journalism, were arrested by the police after leaflets supporting the Maoist movement and condemning the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir were recovered from them last week. Both Shuaib and Fazil hail from Kozhikode district and are full time workers of the Communist Party of India-Marxist. The students were taken into custody following their interrogation and subsequent registration of a case under UAPA. Early this week, a court in Kozhikode had denied bail to them which prompted them to approach the High Court.
The arrest of the students also invited criticism from the top leaders of the party including CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, politburo members Prakash Karat, M.A. Baby besides state CPI secretary Kanam Rajendran. The leaders came down heavily on Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and asked him to revoke UAPA from the students. However, according to sources, Vijayan in a meeting that took place in the state Secretariat said it is impossible to withdraw the UAPA. A committee headed by Retd. Justice P.S. Gopinathan will go through all the facts in the case and will suggest whether UAPA will stay or not.
Also at the party meeting, the Kozhikode district committee of the party was given authority to take action against the two as they directly come under it. Legal expert S. Jaisankar said that Vijayan is playing it safe as he knows that if he does anything it could go out of his hands. The NIA could step in as this is a case where the police have already invoked UAPA charges. In a related development, the special police wing of Tamil Nadu and COBRA wing of the CRPF that deals with Maoists, has approached the Kerala Police that they too wish to join in the probe against the two, to gauge the extent of their involvement with Maoists.
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