SR Darapuri is among those named in the hoardings put up in Lucknow
Former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer SR Darapuri on Sunday said the Uttar Pradesh government's move to name and shame protesters accused of inciting violence during demonstrations against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was a danger to the life and liberty of citizens not yet convicted by courts.
The IPS officer-turned-activist, a prominent face of protests against the CAA in Uttar Pradesh, welcomed the Allahabad High Court decision of taking up the issue of government hoardings in the state with names, photographs and addresses of demonstrators on its own, saying such a move could be an encroachment on privacy, respect and freedom of citizens.
"The action by the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court is welcome. Because of the way the state government is behaving and the way they have put up hoardings, this intervention at the judicial level is a must and we welcome it," Mr Darapuri told NDTV on Sunday.
"In our case, our photographs have been taken – I don't know from where. It is illegal and they have put up on hoardings. It is a violation of our privacy and it has endangered our life and liberty and I personally hold the state responsible," he added.
Senior advocate KK Rai said at an initial hearing on Sunday morning, Allahabad High Court Chief Justice Govind Mathur had made some strong remarks. "By pasting pictures like this, you are impinging on privacy, respect and freedom, and this appears to be an illegal move. Before the advocate general comes, it would be better if the government acts to rectify this," he quoted Justice Mathur as saying.
The court's move to take up the case was a rare one – Sunday is a court holiday. During the one-hour hearing that took place later, at 3 pm, the court asked several questions, which were answered by government representatives. The court is expected to give its judgment on the matter on Monday afternoon.
The hoardings, asking for those named to pay for damage to public property during the protests in Lucknow, were put up at prominent intersections in the city. The hoardings also say if the accused fails to pay up, their properties would be attached.
They were put up on instructions of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a source in the Chief Minister's Office said on condition of anonymity. Individual property attachment notices to many of the accused have already been served by the government.
Besides Mr Darapuri, among those named in the hoardings are activist-politician Sadaf Jafar, lawyer Mohammed Shoaib and theatre personality Deepak Kabir.