The Uttar Pradesh Police on Sunday arrested two Congress workers in Lucknow for putting up posters labelling Chief Minister Adityanath, his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya and other Bharatiya Janata Party leaders “rioters”, The Indian Express reported. The posters put up outside the BJP headquarters in the state are in response to the hoardings that the district administration put up, which carry the names, photographs and addresses of 53 people who protested against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Congress workers Sudhanshu Bajpai and Ashwini were arrested after a first information reported was lodged against them on Saturday. The CCTV footage from the area revealed that Ashwani’s scooter was used to plaster the posters outside the BJP office, an unidentified police official told The Indian Express.
“They have been booked because the hoarding does not have the name of the publisher which is compulsory,” Lucknow Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) Dinesh Singh told the newspaper. The party workers have also been charged under another section for defacement of public property under the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, he added.
The posters had photographs of the BJP leaders, along with a list of criminal cases that were cited by Adityanath and Maurya in their election affidavits. “People want answers,” one poster read. “When will recovery happen from these rioters?”
The Congress workers have also been booked under Section 505(1)(b) – with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquility – of the Indian Penal Code. They have additionally been charged under the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867.
The posters alleged that Adityanath is one of the main accused in the Gorakhpur riots, as well as in five other serious cases. It said Maurya was also accused of rioting and is currently facing 11 cases in Kaushambi. The Congress has mentioned five other BJP leaders – Sangeet Som, Suresh Rana, Sanjeev Balyan, Sadhvi Prachi and Umesh Malik – accusing them of inciting violence during the communal riots that broke out in Muzaffarnagar in 2013, The Wire reported.
State Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu accused the BJP of suppressing dissent and said the arrests were carried out in a “vindictive manner”. “This government does not follow the rule of law. If there is so much of anger [because of the posters], imagine what will happen when their unlawful activities are unmasked before the public.”
The party also staged a protest in Lucknow’s Gandhi Pratima area against the arrests.
BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi, however,attacked the Congress and said the party should have done the “sensible” thing by suspending the workers responsible for such a “cheap gimmick”. “The police and the administration have conducted a probe, and based on that and the rules they have lodged the case and made the arrests,” he added.
Last week, the Samajwadi Party also put up banners of former Union minister Chinmayanand, who is accused of raping a law student, and Unnao rape convict Kuldeep Singh Sengar – both associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party at some point – in Lucknow. Meanwhile, although both the Supreme Court and the Allahabad High Court have ordered that the posters with details of anti-Citizenship Act protestors be removed, those still continue to dot the street of Lucknow.