5 August 2019. Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah, Sajjad Lone, Shah Faesal... All these leaders were detained and put under house arrest one after the other in Jammu and Kashmir.
Section 144 was imposed, mobile and internet services were suspended, and the entire state was turned into a cantonment zone. All this was being done in the name of national security. At that time, Article 370 had been removed from Jammu and Kashmir, and full statehood had been abolished.
4 October 2021. Section 144 had been imposed in Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh. Internet services were suspended. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Akhilesh Yadav, Satish Chandra Mishra, and Sanjay Singh were either detained or placed under house arrest. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghesh's plane was not allowed to land in Lucknow. Leaders of the Opposition were not allowed to go to Lakhimpur Kheri to meet the victims' families. All this was done in the name of law and order.
The situation in UP after the recent incidents seems to be very similar to that of Kashmir. We are not saying this: The leader of the National Conference and former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah is.
Now the question arises, is UP really on the way to becoming Kashmir? Has the situation in the state become so bad that leaders need to be placed under house arrest?
Does Section 144 need to be imposed, and internet services to be suspended? What happened in Kashmir two years ago was witnessed by the whole country. Has the same fire spread to UP now?
Why the Comparison With Jammu and Kashmir
It is Omar Abdullah who has compared the situation in UP to that of Jammu and Kashmir. Local leaders are placed under house arrest after any major incident in Jammu & Kashmir on the instructions of the government. Mobile and internet services are often suspended in the state and Section 144 is imposed. All this is done in the name of security and the deteriorating atmosphere in the state.
It is being alleged that the Yogi Adityanath government in UP is also following this very formula. After any major incident, instead of fixing the responsibility on the state government, there are allegations of targeting the leaders of the opposition. They are detained, placed under house arrest, and internet services are suspended in the area.
Violation of Human Rights in the Name of Law and Order?
Is the detention and house arrest of politicians not a direct violation of human rights? Why were the leaders who were trying to go to Lakhimpur Kheri stopped? Would their visit to Lakhimpur and meeting with the victims' families really have spoilt law and order in the region, or is the government doing this to hide its shortcomings?
Is it right to stop the media from covering such incidents happening in any part of the country? These are some of the questions the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in UP needs to answer.
BSP spokesperson MH Khan termed the detention of leaders as a direct violation of human rights and the Constitution. He told The Quint Hindi, "I had gone to meet a senior party leader Satish Chandra Mishra, who was under house arrest, along with some other leaders on Monday afternoon. We were not allowed to meet him. It is not only a violation of human rights but also of the Constitution."
Questioning the attitude of the Yogi Adityanath government, he said, "No one is allowed to raise a voice against the state, be it the Gorakhpur incident, the murder of a businessman in Kanpur or the Lakhimpur Kheri violence. There is a situation similar to an Emergency in the state. BJP government should be dismissed. Yogi Adityanath has no experience of running the government. The entire state has been left in the hands of 10-12 officers."
J&K Is Now Becoming Like UP: BJP
On Omar Abdullah's statement on Jammu and Kashmir-like situation in Uttar Pradesh, UP BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi told The Quint Hindi, "UP is not becoming J&K, but J&K is now becoming UP. There is peace in the Union territory, democracy is being restored, and investment is also coming."
Defending the detention of opposition leaders and imposition of Section 144, he said, "Wherever a sensitive incident takes place, the administration decides its level. Detention or the house arrest of leaders is not a violation of human rights. The way Samajwadi Party members set fire to a police jeep in Lucknow in the presence of Akhilesh Yadav, we do not know what will they set on fire if they are allowed to reach Lakhimpur Kheri."
Hathras Gang Rape Case
In September last year, a Dalit woman was gang-raped, who later died in Hathras. The state government had forcibly performed the last rites of the victim without the consent of her family.
The UP government had imposed Section 144 in the area, sealed the district's boundaries, and tried its best to prevent Opposition leaders from meeting the victim's family.
Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, who were going to meet the victim's family, were stopped by the police and taken into custody. Chandrashekhar Azad, leader of the Azad Samaj Party, was also detained by the police. However, after facing pressure from all sides, leaders of several parties were allowed to meet the victim's family after a few days.
Attempts To Stop Media
In 2019, after the removal of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, there were allegations of preventing the media from working freely, and the matter had reached the Supreme Court. It was alleged that the central government and the Jammu and Kashmir administration were not allowing the media to function properly.
There were all kinds of restrictions on the media. After the Hathras incident, the UP government was also accused of similar media censorship. Media personnel were neither allowed to meet the victim's family nor allowed to enter the victim's village.
There were even reports of misbehaviour towards journalists. You must be aware of Kerala journalist Siddiqui Kappan. He was going to meet the victim's family in Hathras when he was arrested by the UP Police, who also accused him of having links with the Popular Front of India. Kappan is in jail for the last one year. The situation seems to be the same now after the Lakhimpur Kheri incident.
Questions Being Raised on the Attitude of the UP Government
Last year, the UP government had to face the displeasure of the Allahabad High Court and later Supreme Court after they put up posters of people protesting against the citizenship law.
The state government claimed that those people were rioters, and that's why their posters had been put up. In its reply, the court had said that the guilty should be punished once the charges have been proven, but the government cannot put up posters of anyone like this. The court had also ordered to remove all such posters.