Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government has put up hoardings in prominent intersections in state capital Lucknow, with names, addresses and photos of some of those accused of violence during protests against the citizenship law in Lucknow in December last year. The people named on the hoardings have been asked to pay up compensation for damage to public property in Lucknow during the violence, in which one person died. The hoardings say if the accused fail to pay up soon, their property will be attached.
It is not clear why public hoardings with names and addresses have been put up; individual property attachment notices to many of the accused have already been served by the government. Among those named in the hoardings are activist-politician Sadaf Jafar, lawyer Mohammed Shoaib , theatre personality Deepak Kabir and former IPS officer SR Darapuri. All of these people are out on bail and have said they will contest in court any move by the government to attach their property.
In many bail orders, courts have noted that the police failed to back up their claims about the accused with enough evidence to deny bail.
In February, the Allahabad High Court stayed a similar property attachment notice given by the government to a man in Kanpur, for his alleged role in destruction of government property in large-scale violence over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA in the city in December . The high court provided interim protection to the accused saying that the Supreme Court was already looking into the validity of such notices in a separate case.
A source in the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister’s office said the hoardings in Lucknow were put up on the instructions of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. After the December violence, Yogi Adityanath had courted controversy with his remarks about ‘badla’ or revenge . “We will be very strict. I am monitoring this myself. We will attach the property of all those involved in the violence and many such faces are identified in videography and CCTVs. We will attach their property and take revenge against them ,” the Chief Minister had said.
Large-scale violence had broken out in Uttar Pradesh in December after protests against the citizenship law turned violent in many places. As part of a crackdown, UP Police arrested thousands of people across violence-hit districts and brought serious charges like rioting and attempted murder against them. The police claimed at least 60 of their personnel had bullet injuries across the state while trying to control mobs that were indulging in vandalism, arson and firing.
But many questions have since been raised on the police action, including how the police in many areas seem to have indulged in excesses in dealing with the situation.
In the last week of January, a court in west Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor granted bail to 48 people accused by the state police of rioting and attempted murder during the December violence. The presiding judge made some scathing observations against police investigations in the case. In his bail order, the judge said, “The police FIR says the mob fired at the cops, but no evidence has been presented in court to show any recovery of weapons. The government lawyers have failed to produce any evidence in court that shows that anyone part of the mob fired at the police.”