The cases were filed against journalists, teachers, NGO and rights activists, politicians, students, government and non-government officials, businessmen, lawyers and religious leaders. Illinois University’s distinguished professor and CGS’ advisor Ali Riaz led the research.

The remarks made by the speakers at a webinar on the occasion of unveiling the report were worrying. A speaker said he had to think twice before writing any article due to the law. He said, “I don’t use Facebook and don’t reply to most of the e-mails. Even I have to think before writing any book so now I write travelogues.” A society where people fear to speak cannot be deemed a democratic one. Unfortunately, the extent of protest against the law was not that much. This law has created a culture of fear.

There are some sections in the DSA that not only curb citizens’ rights but also drastically shrink the scope of collecting information by the journalists. The most alarming aspect of the law is that most of its sections are non-bailable. It is tough for a person to face trial or prove innocence from inside the jail.

Although a total of 890 cases were filed under DSA in the last 26 months, only a handful saw trial. Even the plaintiffs know that they would not be able to prove the allegations against the defendants. They only target harassing the defendants. Even law minister Anisul Haq has acknowledged that the law is being abused. He assured on many occasions to take measures to curb abuse of the law but nothing has been done so far. How long he will continue to give assurance? How many people would face harassment after being implicated under this draconian law?

We want a complete repeal of this law. This law is contradictory to not only the Right to Information Act but also to our constitution. Such a law cannot exist in any democratic country.

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