//Parties urged to clarify stand on Goonda Act

Parties urged to clarify stand on Goonda Act

# They say existing laws are sufficient to deal with criminal activities
# Enactment of the Bill will create Emergency-like situation

THRISSUR, Jan 20, 2006,

Leaders of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and some other human rights organisations have urged the political parties in the State to clarify their stand on the Kerala Felonious Activities (Prevention) Bill 2005 which has most of the draconian provisions of the much-objected Goonda Act.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, PUCL State president P.A. Pouran and other leaders said the Bill, which has already been issued as an Ordinance, would deprive all the democratic rights that the people of the State were enjoying so far.

They said everyone knew that the nexus of the political leadership, police and other officials is the real guardians of the goonda and mafia gangs in the State. “Their links with the illegal groups like sandalwood smugglers, blade mafia, sex rackets, liquor barons, kidney traders and medical mafia have been demonstrated in all recent scandals.”

“But the existing laws of the land are more than sufficient to deal with such criminal activities. However, the real purpose of the new law is to crush any genuine voice of dissent against such criminal gangs or agitations for the legitimate demands of the marginalised sections of the people,” they said.

“Under the new Bill, a police official can detain any person in police custody for three to six months without producing in the court, even if he has not committed any offence, just because the official felt that the person can cause violation of law and order,” they alleged.

Asserting that the enactment of the Bill will create terrorising situations akin to the infamous Emergency of the mid-1970s, they said it was a mystery that the mainstream political parties had not yet made their stand known on the issue.

They said they would organise a convention against the Bill in Thrissur on Sunday to mobilise protest against it. Social activities M.N. Vijayan, K.G. Sankarappillai and K. Ajitha are among those who are expected to address the convention.Human rights activists K.S. Soman, T.K. Vasu and Poonam Rahim were among those who addressed the press conference.