The Uttar Pradesh administration on Thursday put up hoardings at several places in Lucknow city showing the photos, names and addresses of 53 people, who have been accused of indulging in violence during the Citizenship Act protests in December, News18 reported.
Activist Sadaf Jafar, retired Indian Police Service officer SR Darapuri, Shia cleric Maulana Saif Abbas, human rights defender Mohammed Shoaib and theatre personality Deepak Kabir are among those who have been named.
“The hoardings of people who have been identified by the district administration for indulging in violent activities during the protest have been put up across the city,” Lucknow District Magistrate Abhishek Prakash told reporters. “Around 100 such hoardings will be put up at several places and these will feature the pictures, names and addresses of people. Also, people indulging in violence have been served recovery notices and if they don’t pay for the damages, then their properties will be confiscated.”
An official from Chief Minister Adityanath’s office said the hoardings were put up on his instructions, according to NDTV.
Jafar termed the move unethical and said she is seeking legal help again, according to PTI. “How can we be publicly humiliated for something that has not yet been proved in court?” the activist asked.
“This is not Afghanistan,” she added. “Legal issues cannot be brought into public like this. Our bail order says there is no adequate evidence against us.”
Jafar also feared the public display could jeopardise the safety of her children. “Why are we being targeted like this?” she questioned. “Did they put up posters of Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi at all airports? Had they done it they would have not fled with the country’s wealth.”
Darapuri said he is writing to the state home secretary, director general of police and police commissioner, saying that if they faced any trouble because of the posters, the administration would be responsible. “We will challenge it in court collectively and demand the immediate withdrawal of the posters as well as action against the officials responsible for it,” he added.
Notices issued to hundreds of people
The Adityanath government had issued notices to hundreds of people in December, seeking damages for destruction of public property during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. At least 295 people in the districts of Lucknow, Kanpur, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Sambhal, Rampur, Bijnor and Bulandshahr reportedly received the notices in connection with property damage worth at least Rs 1.9 crore. In February, the Allahabad High Court stayed a similar recovery notice issued to a Kanpur resident. A plea in the Supreme Court has sought to quash these notices that have been issued.
The punitive measure taken by the state government came amid allegations of police excess during the clashes that erupted on December 20. At least 18 people were killed during the demonstrations – a large number of them from firearm injuries.
Many of those who have been named in the hoardings are currently out on bail. An analysis of 13 court orders from Muzaffarnagar, Varanasi and Lucknow by Scroll.in showed that judges are granting bail to many of those arrested because the police have been unable to put forward evidence.
“We were arrested, assaulted, sent to jail and then given bail. Now this is a new tactic to put pressure on us,” Kabir told NDTV. “I got a recovery notice already in jail. I sent a letter via the jail superintendent asking how I could plead my case before a concerned officer when I was in jail. I got no reply. No one listened to me and then they sent me a recovery order.”
He added: “You know our addresses, we have the notice. Then why this? Is this to create fear? And if it is, then how can any government be called a good government.”
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11 and notified on January 10, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims, leading to protests against it.