THE LUCKNOW administration has started putting up hoardings with photographs and addresses of those booked in cases of alleged vandalism and arson linked to protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in the city on December 19.
Among those shown in the posters are leading activists, including Congress leader Sadaf Jafar, Rihai Manch founder Mohammad Shoaib and Deepak Kabir, prominent Shia cleric Kalbe Sadiq’s son Kalbe Sibtain Noori, and retired IPS officer and activist S R Darapuri.
Speaking to The Indian Express, all of them said they would approach the courts against the UP government’s move because it poses a “serious threat” to their lives, amounts to gross “violation of privacy”, and “violates the fundamental right to life and liberty”.
City Magistrate Sushil Pratap Singh told The Indian Express that the administration is planning to put up 125 such hoardings across Lucknow. Singh also said that a total of Rs 1.55 crore will be recovered from 57 people named in these cases.
On Friday evening, UP Minister and BJP leader Sidharth Nath Singh tweeted: “#UP Name and Shame of rioters will put a deterrent under Yogi rule which is as per the law of the land. Those screaming r habitual to b on the wrong side & wish not to differentiate between ‘Recovery and Conviction’.”
Questioning the government’s move, Darapuri said: “With photographs and addresses, what is the government and administration trying to do? This will put our lives at stake. This is being done to defame and intimidate us, and all those people who are protesting against the CAA and NRC.”
The 77-year-old said he has emailed a letter to the Principal Secretary (Home), UP DGP, Lucknow Police Commissioner and the District Magistrate asking for these hoardings to be removed. “This may lead to mob violence against the people shown and their family members. Now, anyone can come to my house, and my safety is being compromised,” said Puri.
Jafar, Shoaib and Darapuri face charges of rioting, attempt to murder and arson at the Hazratganj police station. Police have not yet filed the chargesheet in the case. Darapuri was arrested on December 20 and released on bail on January 7.
The protests on December 19 had turned violent in the Hazratganj, Hasanganj, Kaiserbagh and Thakurganj areas, leading to one death due to gunshot injuries. Police have denied charges that they fired at the protesters.
Shoaib said he will file a defamation case against the administration. “When the matter is subjudice, how can they pronounce us guilty like this? This is defamation,” he said.
The 73-year-old activist claimed he was already in police custody when the protests sparked violence on December 19. “Police had kept me under house arrest on December 18 and taken me to the Aminabad station on December 19. Now, they have removed all evidence which proves that I was in their custody when the violence happened,” Shoaib claimed. According to police, Shoaib was arrested on December 19 and later released on bail.
Lucknow-based activist Deepak Kabir said he will approach courts regarding “gross violation of his privacy”. “We are not absconding that they had to put up our photographs on these billboards. I was in jail when I was served notice regarding the damage in Lucknow. I had asked jail officials to let me reply to the notice. But that was not allowed,” claimed Kabir, who was arrested on December 19 and released on bail on January 9.
City Magistrate Singh said the administration will put up “five types of hoardings”. “Starting Thursday evening, we have put up some of them in Lucknow. One type will include the names of all 57 people who are guilty of vandalism. The other four will be on the damage in the areas,” he said.
“There are several ways of making such orders or notices public. One is to hand them over personally to people. Another is to paste a notice at their houses. The administration can also get announcements made regarding the order. Then, there is a way to make them public by putting them up in public places,” Singh said.
But Congress’s Jafar said her safety is being compromised. “Putting up these hoardings is vendetta because we are participating in protests against the CAA and NRC. It is also unethical and illegal. This is being done to intimidate us,” said Jafar, 44, who also teaches at a private school.
Jafar was arrested from Parivartan Chowk in Hazratganj area on December 19 while she was doing a Facebook Live video questioning the role of police in curbing the violence. She was released on bail on January 7.
Kalbe Sibtain Noori accused the state government of “trying to intimidate Muslims”. “If they can do this to me, one can imagine the hardships being faced by others,” he said.
Noori is facing charges of rioting and conspiracy to instigate riots in the Thakurganj area on December 19. Police added his name to the FIR during investigation but have not arrested him.
It’s not just leading activists and politicians who feature on the hoardings. Another face is that of Osama Siddiqui, a 20-year-old third-year student at Techno Group of Institutions, who is facing charges of rioting and violation of prohibitory orders at the Hasanganj police station. He was arrested on December 19 and was released on bail on January 10.
Speaking to The Indian Express over phone, Siddiqui’s mother Yasmin said: “He had gone to buy stationery when he was caught in the chaos that erupted in the area. They have not shown us any evidence against my son. We will approach the court and appeal against this.”
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