Those who participate in criminal acts during protests and road blockades and have been chargesheeted by the police, will not be eligible for government jobs or contracts in Bihar, according to an order issued by the state police on February 1. Such persons would also find it difficult to get their passports, avail financial grants and even bank loans.

The order was issued by the Director General of Police SK Singhal. It stated, “If any person, during a law and order situation, protest demonstration, road blockade, etc, takes part in criminal acts and is named in a chargesheet filed by the police, this will be mentioned in their character verification certificate.”

It also warned people that they should be “prepared for serious repercussions”, adding that they will not be eligible for government jobs and contracts.

While issuing the new directive, DGP Singhal referred to a circular released by Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department, Amir Subhani on January 29, according to The Indian Express. It directed the DGP and heads of all government departments to issue character certificates to a prospective contractor, only after verifying their criminal antecedents.

The home department circular, however, did not make any reference to “criminal involvement” during demonstration and protests, unlike the latest order of the Bihar Police.

Under the new directive, nine services have been identified that would require the Police Verification Report. These are, license for firearms, passport, character certificate, contractual jobs in government, work contracts in government departments, boards and commissions, licences for petrol pump and gas agency, government assistance or grant and bank loans.

A senior police official told the Hindustan Times that all the contractors, especially those engaged in the bidding process for construction of bus stands and vegetable markets, would have to obtain character certificates from the state police.

“Workers, associated with the contractors or private firms awarded government contracts, will also have to submit character certificates,” he added. “They will be issued identity cards later.”

Opposition hits out

Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav criticised the directive, and accused Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of acting like a dictator.

“In a challenge to Hitler and Mussolini, Nitish Kumar says if someone uses his democratic right against government by staging dharna-protest, he will not get a government job, which means neither will jobs be given, nor will protest be allowed,” Yadav wrote on Twitter, along with attaching a copy of the order. “How this hapless chief minister with 40 seats is frightened!”

Senior Congress leader Prem Chandra Mishra said the new police directive of the Bihar government was, in fact, an encroachment on the democratic rights of the common citizens of the state, reported The Hindu. “How can a government issue such directives to frighten and stop people from staging protests and dharnas,” he asked.

Bihar Additional DGP (Law and Order) Jitendra Kumar told The Indian Express that the new order was being wrongly interpreted. “The order does not put any curb on one’s democratic right to protest,” he added. “But if one is involved in any criminal activity in the course of such protests, it will reflect in one’s character certificate.”

Last month, the state government had come under sharp criticism for issuing a similar notification that said, “Offensive social media posts against the government, Ministers, MPs, legislators and State officials will be treated as a cybercrime and invite penal action”.

The state police, however, had later clarified that “constructive criticism was welcome”, and action may be taken only against social media posts that use “insulting language” to spread rumours.