– Amid lockdown, UP Police serves notice on ‘The Wire’ editor for comments about Adityanath

The notice asks Siddharth Varadarajan to appear in Ayodhya on 14 April, even though the nationwide lock-down to rein in Covid-19 will still be in place.

Scroll Staff

Lucknow – Uttar Pradesh – India, The Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh on Friday served a notice to The Wire’s Founding Editor Siddharth Varadarajan amid the nation-wide lockdown to appear in Ayodhya on 14 April for making an allegedly “objectionable comment” about the chief minister.

The matter pertains to an article published in The Wire on 31 March against the backdrop of the controversy over the Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area that left many participants infected with the corona-virus.

In a tweet, Varadarajan had mistakenly claimed that Adityanath said, “Lord Ram would protect devotees from the coronavirus.” The next day, he posted a clarification, noting that the statement had been made by Acharya Paramhans, the head of the Ayodhya temple trust, not by Adityanath. A correction was also made to The Wire’s article.

In a series of tweets, sociologist and Varadarajan’s wife Nandini Sundar said seven or eight policemen had come to their home in Delhi on Friday, claiming that they had driven from Ayodhya for the “essential service” to deliver the notice.

“When it comes to the gross abuse of police power by the Adityanath administration in UP and its intolerance of press freedom, it is clear that Covid-19, the lockdown and social distancing make no difference whatsoever,” Sundar said.

“Today, 10 April, at 2 pm a plainclothes man came to our home and said he had come from the Ayodhya ‘prashasan’ to serve notice on Varadarajan. He would not give his name. I told him to leave it in the mailbox. He refused.”

Sundar claimed that the two men in uniform also did not have any masks and among them only two identified themselves. “On insisting, they gave plainclothesman’s name as Chanderbhan Yadav, not designation,” she tweeted. “Cops said they’d driven from Ayodhya for this essential service!”

“They wouldn’t let me sign the notice, ‘Our rule is not to give it to women and minors,’” Sundar added. “When asked to be shown the rule, they sought instructions on phone and let me sign. Then, they phoned their boss to say notice has been received.”

Mritunjay Kumar, the media advisor to Adityanath, had said on April 1 that action had been taken against Varadarajan since he had neither deleted the tweet nor apologised.

The FIR was filed based on the complaint of Nitish Kumar Shrivastav, a resident of Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh. In his complaint, Shrivastav said: “The Wire editor on his blog, with the aim to spread rumours and hostility among the public, publicised the following message: ‘On the day the Tablighi Jamaat event was held, Yogi Adityanath insisted that a large fair planned for Ayodhya on the occasion of Ram Navami from March 25 to April 2 would proceed as usual while Acharya Paramhans said that Lord Ram would protect devotees from the corona-virus.”

The complainant said this amounted to “an objectionable comment” against Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath, “which has caused anger among people”. However, the FIR did not name the editor.

The Editors Guild of India said the first information report against the editor was “an overreaction and an act of intimidation”. Congress leader P Chidambaram had on 02 April attacked the Uttar Pradesh government and called the FIR a “deplorable act”, intended to suppress media freedom.

The Telegraph – Banner home-truths for Yogi Adityanath and friends

The headline on the banners read: Janata mange jawab, in dangaiyon se wasuli kab

The banner put up by Congress supporters on Saturday in Lucknow shows pictures of several BJP leaders, including Yogi Adityanath, and says they are accused in riot cases. More opponents are paying chief minister Yogi Adityanath back in his own banner. Picture by Naeem Ansari

Piyush Srivastava

Lucknow – Uttar Pradesh – India, 15 March 2020. Uttar Pradesh police have brought down banners put up by a Samajwadi Party leader on Friday night beside the government’s “name-and-shame” hoardings against anti-citizenship act protesters.

But new banners with pictures of the ruling BJP’s leaders, including the chief minister, were put up by two Congress supporters on Saturday morning.

Besides that of Adityanath, the new banners feature the pictures of Keshav Prasad Maurya, deputy chief minister; Sanjeev Baliyan, minister of state for animal husbandry in the Narendra Modi government; Sangeet Som, Umesh Mallik and Suresh Rana, all BJP MLAs; and Sadhvi Prachi, a Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader.

An error in the poster was testimony to the haste in which it was printed. It carried the photo of Radha Mohan Singh, a senior BJP leader of Bihar and former central minister but the name written below was that of Radha Mohan Das Agrawal, who is a BJP leader of Gorakhpur.

The headline on the banners, put up in Hazratganj area and also near Vidhan Sabha and at the gate of the BJP office, read: “Janata mange jawab, in dangaiyon se wasuli kab (The people are asking, when recovery would be done from these rioters)?”

The state government has put up 100 hoardings featuring photographs, names and addresses of 53 anti-CAA protesters across Lucknow city, declaring that they would be made to pay for the damages to public and private properties, caused at a protest against the amended law on 19 December 2019.

While Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court had said there was no such law to put up the pictures of citizens at public places, the state cabinet on Friday cleared an ordinance amid suggestions that it will have a provision to get around possible legal pitfalls.

I P Singh, a Samajwadi leader, had struck back first. Beside the government hoardings, he put up banners with pictures of Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a rapist who was in the BJP, and Swami Chinmayanand, a former Union minister of state for home, who is accused of sexually exploiting a law student. The police had promptly removed the banners.

The fresh banners erected by Sudhanshu Bajpai and Lalu Kanaujia, the two Congress supporters, kept Lucknow police busy on Saturday.

These banners mention that “Ajay Singh Bist alias Yogi Adityanath” and Maurya are accused of rioting in five and 11 cases, respectively. The other leaders whose pictures and names have been printed (except the erroneously published picture of Radha Mohan Singh) are also accused of rioting.

Bajpai told reporters that he was annoyed with the government’s action against those who were democratically protesting. “The government erected the hoardings with pictures, names and addresses of peace-loving citizens just because they were critical of the Modi government’s citizenship act.

Adityanath wants to impound their properties to make up the loss. However, the BJP leaders whose pictures and names have been published on the new banners have also damaged properties. They should also be made to pay against the damages,” said Bajpai.

Dhirendra Pratap, station house officer of Hazratganj police station, said: “Besides municipal authority’s action against such unauthorised banners, the police are also registering cases against them for breach of peace.” – The Daily Fix: CM Yogi Adityanath has little regard for the Constitution, as Allahabad HC order proves

Hours after the court made it clear that the billboards with details of CAA protestors would have to come down, they were still standing in Lucknow.

Rohan Venkataramakrishnan

Lucknow – Uttar Pradesh – India, 10 March 2020. The Allahabad High Court did something on Monday that was completely unusual. It not only delivered a judgment that was critical of the majoritarian government that rules in Uttar Pradesh, it did so after taking “suo moto” action, meaning the court did not wait for someone to even file a petition.

The court had seen the Uttar Pradesh government putting up banners in several parts of Lucknow on which were displayed the photographs, names and addresses of people involved in the protests against the Citizenship Act amendment.

Though none of these people had been convicted by a court, the government had gone ahead and placed their details on these billboards in a bid to “name and shame” them. The inclusion of their addresses suggested something more sinister.

Considering the violence that has been unleashed in various parts of the country against CAA protesters and the fact that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has led calls to “shoot the bloody traitors”, the inclusion of personal details also made the billboards a breach of privacy that could have very real, very dangerous outcomes.

“We are having no doubt that the action of the State, which is subject matter of this public interest litigation, is nothing but an unwarranted interference in privacy of people,” the court said.

In response, the state, which was unable to point to any legal provision that allowed it to put up these billboards, focused its energy on insisting that the court did not have the powers to take up the case by itself.

Here the court’s comments should come as an indictment, not just of the state, but also of constitutional courts around the country, including the Supreme Court, that have turned a blind eye to the state’s deliberate trampling all over civil liberties and fundamental rights.

“Where there is gross negligence on part of public authorities and government, where the law is disobeyed and the public is put to suffering and where the precious values of the constitution are subjected to injuries, a constitutional court can very well take notice of that at its own,” the bench said.

“The Court in such matters is not required to wait necessarily for a person to come before it to ring the bell of justice. The Courts are meant to impart justice and no court can shut its eyes if a public unjust is happening just before it.”

If only this were true

The fact is, even in this matter, Uttar Pradesh’s unleashing of violence and intimidation against the CAA protesters and Muslims in general as retribution, the courts have not stepped up to the task of holding the state accountable.

While there are now many instances of courts finding the police’s actions egregious and the High Court asking for accountability, there is no sense that the Chief Minister Adityanath’s government has been chastened.

Indeed, many hours after the Allahabad High Court made it clear that the billboards would have to come down, they were still standing in Lucknow.

This shame-faced display of impunity in the face of direct, unambiguous orders from the Allahabad High Court is as clear a declaration as can be that Adityanath’s government is not bothered about applying the rule of law.

It is thus doubly necessary for the judiciary, at whichever level, to assert itself. Here is a government that is on the face of it going far beyond where the law would allow it to travel, and refusing to listen to specific directions.

From the Supreme Court down, the higher judiciary needs to send the message to the Uttar Pradesh government that simply riding high on the wave of majoritarian politics does not give it carte blanche to undermine the rights of citizens.

As the bench said, “The Courts are meant to impart justice and no court can shut its eyes if a public unjust is happening just before it.”

The Indian Express – 1984 anti-Sikh riots: SIT seeks to probe 10 cases closed by Kanpur police

As many as 1,251 cases were registered and 127 people were killed in Kanpur during the riots that broke out after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984.

Manish Sahu

Lucknow – Uttar Pradesh – India, 22 January 2020. Nearly a year after a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was formed by the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh to examine and re-investigate 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases of Kanpur, it will move the court to seek permission to further investigate 10 cases in which the local police had earlier filed closure reports.

The SIT has also sent a report to the government seeking permission to file an appeal against the lower court’s judgment in five other cases.

The SIT’s decision comes days after the state Cabinet gave the status of a police station to the SIT, empowering it to investigate cases and initiate legal procedures.

As many as 1,251 cases were registered and 127 people were killed in Kanpur during the riots that broke out after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984. Except for 153 cases, police had then filed closure reports in all other cases.

The SIT had earlier identified 39 cases of heinous crimes like murder and dacoity, in which the police had earlier filed charge-sheet in 11 and submitted closure reports in the remaining 28, citing various grounds.

“The 10 cases in which 35 people were killed have been initially selected for further investigation as the complainants and witnesses in these cases have agreed to support the SIT,” said an officer of the SIT.

Hindustan Times – Three women thieves travelling with Sikh pilgrims from Pakistan arrested

Lucknow – Uttar Pradesh – India, 22 August 2019. Three Ludhiana women thieves and pick-pockets, travelling with Sikh pilgrims from Nankana Sahib in Pakistan, were arrested by the Alambagh police here on Thursday.

Police said they are part of a gang travelling with the pilgrims, who are on a visit to different cities of India. “The miscreants strike during gatherings being organized for the pilgrims in various places,” said a police officer.

Inspector of Alambagh police station Anand Shahi said the three women, Seeto Singh, Sukhwinder and Daani, were arrested near Chander Nagar locality, under Alambagh police station limits, when they stole hand-bags of three women pilgrims. He said the stolen hand-bags were later recovered from their possession.

Shahi said the arrested women revealed during interrogation that more members of their gang had mingled with the pilgrims when they entered India via Punjab and had committed several thefts and done pick-pocketing at different locations.

He said some they committed crime at three places in Lucknow (Bakshi Ka Talab, Ganeshganj and Alambagh) and added that their gang members committed thefts in Sitapur, Shahjahanpur, Bareilly and some places in Punjab.

He said police officials of the places where thefts were committed have been informed about their arrest.

“The pilgrims have now reached Kanpur and their hosts have been informed about the gang. He said the arrested women had revealed names of some members of their gang and their details have also been shared with the hosts,” Shahi said.

Nankana Sahib is in Punjab province of Pakistan that is named after the first Guru of Sikhs, Guru Nanak, who was born in the city and first began preaching there. It is a city of historic and religious value and a popular pilgrimage site for Sikhs from all over the world.

The Hindu – Magsaysay award winner briefly put under house arrest for planning J&K support march

Omar Rashid

Lucknow – Uttar Pradesh – India, 11 August 2019. Sandeep Pandey had announced a candlelight march in solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370 and the clampdown on communication.

Magsaysay award winner and social activist Sandeep Pandey was on Sunday briefly barred from leaving his house here by the Lucknow police after he had announced a candlelight march in solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370 and the clampdown on communication.

Mr Pandey’s wife Arundhati Dhuru, an activist herself, said in a text message: “There are police outside our home, not allowing any of us to go out.”

However, she said the police team had left the residence around 4 pm.

Mr Pandey was among those who had announced the demonstration “in support of people of Kashmir” on Sunday at 6 pm. The demonstration was scheduled at the Gandhi statue in Hazratganj in the heart of the Uttar Pradesh capital.

Mr Pandey was put under “house arrest” even after he had informed the police that the protest was postponed to August 16 in the wake of their security concerns around the Bakrid and the Independence Day, said Rajeev Yadav of the Rihai Manch, a civil rights group based in UP which was part of the scheduled demonstration.

“No security in Lucknow, leave Kashmir aside. Lucknow police officers’ dictatorial direction,” said Mr. Yadav.

President of the Rihai Manch and senior advocate Mohammad Shoaib said he was also being pressured by the police to call off the demonstration. “When I told them we were willing to be arrested under the relevant legal Sections for holding a protest, they told me they didn’t want to arrest us,” he told The Hindu.

Police personnel led by CO and SHO rank officers had gone to his residence but left soon after.

The police are yet to issue a statement.

The Hindu – Yogi Adityanath pins Sonbhadra blame on Congress – Samajwadi Party

Omar Rashid

Lucknow – Uttar Pradesh – India, 21 July 2019. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday held the Congress and partly the Samajwadi Party responsible for the Sonbhadra killings over a land dispute, which he said were a result of the “sins” committed by the previous Congress governments.

Mr Adityanath said “going to the bottom” of the case, the incident “is an example of a political conspiracy and goondagardi (hooliganism)”, and had exposed the “anti-Dalit and anti-tribal face of the Congress”.

He said the National Security Act would be invoked against all those involved in the land grab incident.

The CM, who visited the affected village in Sonbhadra and met the families of the victims, also claimed that the main accused in the shootings, gram pradhan Yagya Dutta, was an “active member” of the SP, while his brother belonged to the Bahujan Samaj Party. Both have been arrested.

In an apparent dig at Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who had a 24-hour stand-off with the Mirzapur administration over the issue, Mr Adityanath said the Congress, which was “shedding crocodile tears”, should apologise to the poor tribal families for starting the land dispute leading to the loss of 10 lives.

According to the two-member probe by the Yogi Adityanath government, the land dispute in Umbha and Sipah villages in Ghorawal, Sonbhadra, where the shoot-out took place, traces its genesis to 1955, when a tract of barren tribal land was illegally registered under the name of a public trust, Adarsh Cooperative Society, run by a then Congress Rajya Sabha MP.

Then, in 1989, when the Congress was still ruling in UP, the government said the trust’s land was transferred in the name of individual members of the trust, who then sold it to the accused gram pradhan in 2017 after failing to get possession. A three-member committee under the Additional Chief Secretary-Revenue has been formed to probe the entire matter.

Compensation increased

Mr Adityanath, meanwhile, increased the compensation for the families of the deceased to Rs 18.5 lakh from Rs 5 lakh, while the injured would receive Rs 5 lakh against the Rs 50,000 announced earlier.

The CM, while assuring all help and development to locals, also promised them that houses would be provided to members of the SC and ST communities of Sonbhadra within a year, while a separate committee would be formed to pay attention to the overall development of the district. The affected villages would also get a police outpost, an Anganwadi centre and a fire tender centre.

Ms Vadra, who was prevented from visiting the affected village in Sonbhadra by the Yogi Adityanath government, tried to take credit for the CM’s visit. “Better late than never, standing with the victims is the duty of the government,” Ms. Vadra tweeted.

‘Fulfil demands’

She said when thousands of Congress workers and justice-loving people supported the voice of the victims of Umbha village, the government realised that it was a “serious incident.”

Ms Vadra also asked the Yogi Adityanath government to implement the promises made by him in Sonbhadra and also fulfil their demands.

Ms Vadra had on Saturday endorsed the five-fold demand put forth by the tribals: Rs 25 lakh compensation to the family of each victim; ownership rights over the land they have been cultivating for generations; fast track hearing of the July 17 killings in Ghorawal; withdrawal of cases against “innocent” villagers over the land dispute; and security for tribals leading the fight for their land rights.

The Hindu – Plaint against rapper for post on RSS chief, UP Chief Minister

‘Hard Kaur had insulted senior leaders’

Lucknow – Uttar Pradesh – India, 20 June 2019. A complaint was submitted here on Thursday against UK-based rapper Taran Kaur Dhillon aka Hard Kaur for an alleged abusive post against RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on a social networking platform, police said.

The complaint was submitted at the cyberpolice station in Bandra Kurla Complex by one Sandip Ghuge, who claims to be the president of the BJP Chitrapat (Film) Union, an official said.

The complaint alleged that Ms Kaur had “insulted and abused” the senior leaders.

It said she had no right to abuse the respected personalities without any reason, proof or any justification, the official said.

The complainant has sought action against the singer for misusing the social media platform to “promote hatred by using abusive language.”

Ms Kaur, known for her hit songs like “Glassy” and “Move Your Body,” owns a music label, Future Records.

She has been booked for sedition in Uttar Pradesh for the alleged objectionable remarks against Mr. Bhagwat and Mr. Adityanath.

NDTV – Congress blocked fund release to anti-Sikh riot victims: Rajnath Singh

“I ordered the release of the fund. And we have given Rs. 2 lakh to every family of the victim,” Rajnath Singh said.

Lucknow – Uttar Pradesh – India, 24 March 2019. Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday accused the Congress of blocking the release of compensatory funds meant for the victims of 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Speaking at an event in Lucknow, Mr Singh said: “When I took the office of Home Ministry in 2014, I got to know that the ministry had the extra fund of Rs. 90 crore that was meant for the victims of the anti-Sikh riots, but the Congress had not released it.”

“I ordered the release of the fund. And we have given Rs. 2 lakh to every family of the victim,” he added.

“It is the first time, that a leader of the then ruling party has been convicted for his crime during the riots. It could be possible because the BJP was at the Centre. And I had also ordered the formation of SIT to investigate the riots.”

He further criticised the Congress for questioning Balakot strike conducted by Indian Air Force. “I can assure you every action was taken after the intelligence input. I don’t understand the attack was conducted in Pakistan, why Congress is feeling pain?”

Mr Singh also praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, stating that he has emerged as the “most popular leader” of the world. Mr Singh further added that, “I am not telling you because the election is coming, but India’s Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) is not only India’s favourite leader but has also emerged as the world’s most popular leader.”