‘Threat to Life & Liberty’: Anti-CAA Protesters Slam UP Hoardings

Sadaf Jafar, SR Darapuri and Deepak Kabir among those sent notices to pay for damage to property during protests.

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The Uttar Pradesh government has come under fire for its move to put up hoardings in Lucknow displaying the name, photograph and even the address of over 50 people accused by it of partaking in anti-CAA protests in the city during which violence erupted.

The people ‘named and shamed’ on these hoardings – including poet Deepak Kabir, activist and All India Professionals Congress member Sadaf Jafar and retired IPS officer SR Darapuri – have been sent notices to pay compensation for damage to public property during the protests.

The hoardings, following what was said in the notices to them and several others across the state, claim that if these people don’t pay up, the government will attach their property. The people named on the hoardings are all out on bail.

According to a report by NDTV, the hoardings were put up on the instructions of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The report also notes that Allahabad High Court has stayed some of the notices issued to people in the state demanding compensation. In one case, it specifically said the Supreme Court is dealing with the issue, and so the notice, to a Kanpur man, had to be stayed.

Putting Protesters in Danger

Speaking to The Quint, SR Darapuri, Sadaf Jafar and Deepak Kabir strongly criticised the move by the government, arguing that putting up hoardings with their name and address was not only illegal, but also put their lives in danger.

“Putting up these hoardings has put us in serious danger, because they’ve displayed our home addresses along with our photos,” says Darapuri. “This poses a serious threat to our life and liberty, which are our fundamental rights,” he added.

Sadaf Jafar who, like Darapuri, has alleged she was beaten and tortured in police custody after being detained during the Lucknow protests on 19 December 2019, agreed with this assessment:

“Think about it: you have put up people’s faces and made their addresses public. It’s clear from these actions of the Yogi government what kind of people they’re trying to encourage.”       

In Darapuri’s opinion, putting up these hoardings in public places is meant to have them targeted. “Everyone knows what the atmosphere in the country is like, how mobs attack people over small issues,” he explained.

An Illegal Move?

They also note that there is no authority in law for the government to do something like this. “There is no section in the CrPC which says that you can put up photos of someone in public like this while a case is sub judice, or even if the person has been convicted,” Jafar argues firmly.

Darapuri is similarly unequivocal about how putting up public hoardings like this is illegal:

“This move of putting up photos and posters is completely illegal. There is no law which gives the police or district administration permission to do something this... It is a misuse of administrative power.” 

Deepak Kabir points out that the notices for recovery of losses was sent to them while they were in jail – before they got bail – as a result of which they couldn’t present their defence when the administration was conducting its assessment. He asked for permission to go and defend himself but did not get an answer.

“No answer was given to us, we were not given a hearing,” he complains. “Straightaway, without any basis, it was held that we were liable to pay for damage.”

Not Giving Up

Despite this, the three of them are not backing down, and urge the government to reconsider its decision.

“I don’t believe that this politics of fear and intimidation will not scare us. They can throw us in jail, imprison us for life, hang us. But we will fight against what is wrong. We will work with the people, and we will ensure we don’t do anything that isn’t in accordance with the Constitution. If we do something wrong, then punish us in accordance with the law.”
Deepak Kabir

Darapuri has written to the DGP, Home Secretary, Police Commissioner and District Magistrate, saying the move is illegal and poses a threat to their safety. He has warned them that if any harm comes to the people named on the hoardings, the authorities will be responsible.

“I have requested them to please remove the hoardings immediately, and there should be strict action against whoever has committed this illegal act,” he told The Quint.

Jafar strikes a more defiant tone, and says they will take this action of the UP authorities to court.

“We live in India and follow its Constitution. We don’t live in a State where people’s hands are cut off, where people face mob justice. This whole thing is wrong. We will challenge this legally.”     
Sadaf Jafar

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