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'In UAPA Arrests During 2018-20, 18-30 Age Group Accounts for 53%': Centre

Out of total number of arrests made under UAPA in 2020, the maximum were in Uttar Pradesh with 361 arrests, followed by Jammu and Kashmir with 346, and Manipur with 225 arrests.

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New Delhi: The Union home ministry on Thursday, August 4, told the Rajya Sabha that out of 4,690 persons arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act [UAPA] between 2018 and 2020, 53% were in the age group of 18 to 30. While 13 were under 18 years, 10 arrested persons were above 60 years.

Responding to a query by Sandosh Kumar, a CPI MP from Kerala, Union minister of state for home affairs Nityanand Rai said out of 4,690 arrested persons under UAPA in the said period, 2,488 (53%) were in the age bracket of 18 and 30, 1,850 (39%) in the 30-45 age group, and 329 aged 45-60.

In the 2018-20 period, the minister said that only 149 were convicted out of 4,690 persons, according to the data based on the National Crime Records Bureau tabled in the parliament.

The number of arrested persons under the anti-terror law declined by 32% in 2020 with 1,321 arrests compared to 1,948 in 2019. However, the number of convictions rose from 34 in 2019 to 80 in 2020, a 135% jump, the minister stated.

Out of total number of arrests made under UAPA in 2020, the maximum were in Uttar Pradesh with 361 arrests, followed by Jammu and Kashmir with 346, and Manipur with 225 arrests.

Also read: UAPA Case Data Suggests That Process Is Indeed the Punishment

The Union home ministry had earlier, on July 2020, disclosed that just 212 of the 24,134 people arrested under UAPA were convicted in the 2016-20 period. The abysmally conviction rate reveals that an overwhelming majority (97.5%) of people arrested under the anti-terror law – which makes obtaining bail virtually impossible – are imprisoned for multiple years while waiting for trial.

The figures for 2016-20 reveal that 3,047 people have been undertrial prisoners since 2016, 4,098 since 2017, 4,862 since 2018, 5,645 since 2019 and 6,482 since 2020. Only 386 people who were accused under the UAPA were acquitted in the said period.

The UAPA law was enacted in 1967, but has acquired teeth through amendments in 2008 and 2012 made by Congress governments and subsequently by the Narendra Modi government.

It is virtually impossible for those booked under UAPA to secure bail. The law says that an accused cannot be released on bail if the court is of the opinion that the accusation against the person is prima facie true.

As a result, most of those booked under the law end up languishing in jails as undertrials for an inordinately long time. There have been allegations against successive governments, including the incumbent Modi government, of misusing the law as a political tool to silence critics. In 2019, amendments to the UAPA made by the present NDA government allowed individuals, not just organisations, to be designated as terrorists.