Posters with photographs of activists who had campaigned against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) earlier this year have reappeared in Lucknow. The posters that came up late Thursday, announced a reward of Rs 5,000 for anyone who provides information about the accused persons. Photographs of eight anti-CAA activists were labelled 'wanted' and declared them 'absconders', along with their names and addresses. An announcement regarding them was also made on a loudspeaker in the old city areas.
One of the 'accused' is Shia cleric Maulana Saif Abbas. The eight are Mohammad Alam, Mohammad Tahir, Rizwan, Rafat Ali, Ahsan, Irshad, Hasan and Irshad. They have been accused of vandalism during protests in December 2019 against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
All the accused are from the Thakurganj area of old Lucknow. Mobile numbers of senior police officials of the Thakurganj police station have also been provided in the posters so that information could be forwarded to them.
The accused have been booked under The UP Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986.
A police official said that the activists were involved in the 'violence' during the anti-CAA protests in 2019 and had been 'missing' since. He added that pictures of the accused have been put up everywhere they were likely to meet. Posters and notices have also been put up near the houses of the accused.
Activists have termed the putting up of posters as 'unethical' and 'misuse of law' saying it would encourage lynch mobs.
Some who feature in the posters have said they will go to court for the 'public humiliation' since charges against them are yet to be proved.
It may be recalled that Allahabad High Court in March this year, had said that the posters were an 'unwarranted interference in the privacy of people' and in violation of the Constitution.
The state government had then too put up similar posters with photographs of 53 anti-CAA protestors in the state capital and the high court had termed the action as an encroachment on the personal liberty of individuals. Those posters said they were supposed to a pay fine for damage caused to a property on December 19.
The court had reserved verdict in the case on March 9, 2020.
S.R. Darapuri, a human rights activist and former Inspector General of UP Police, whose photo and address had been put up earlier, said, "The Yogi government is misusing the National Security Act (NSA), Goonda Act, and Gangster Act for crimes whose victims are predominantly Muslims and Dalits.
"Such a draconian law is supposed to be used against a person who is a serial offender. Besides, how can the government humiliate one over something that had not been proven in court."
The CAA was passed by Parliament on December 11, 2019. It led to protests across India and violence in UP.
At least 23 people were killed across Uttar Pradesh during the protests.
A large number of protesters were sent to jail and were later released on bail.
(With IANS inputs)