A controversial order issued by police in Bihar and Uttarakhand stated that participation in a protest that turns violent or those who post on social media any content that is deemed inappropriate by the police can lead to a lot of trouble for protestors.
It may cost them their Government job, passport, loans, and gun license.
In both states, the ruling BJP party has a representation in the government. While in Uttarakhand BJP has its CM Trivendra Singh Rawat, in Bihar it is supporting JDU CM Nitish Kumar and is the dominant party in terms of the number of seats in the assembly.
The police in Bihar has issued an order saying those participating in violent protests and demonstrations will find it difficult to get government jobs or passports.
The order said that they would also not be given loans of grants from the government.
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav accused Bihar CM Nitish Kumar of “challenging Mussolini and Hitler” with the new directive.
In another state –a conference of police officers on Tuesday, Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar asked the police to maintain a record of people making “anti-national” or “anti-social” posts on social media, with screenshots as evidence.
The Uttarkhand police even went further in the broad areas of punitive measures for such protestors and social media posters.
The Indian Express reported that participation in protests would affect police verification for nine services. These services are passport, character certificate, contractual jobs in government, work contracts in government departments, boards and commissions, licenses for petrol pump and gas agency, passports, government grant, bank loans.
The directive says that the “criminal act” of participating in a “law and order situation” would result in mention of it in their character certificate. In short, the participation in any protest that turns violent or social media posts that police believe is inappropriate will find a mention in the certificate.
India Today quoted the directive of Bihar Police stating “If a person is involved in any criminal act by engaging in any law and order situation, protests, road jams, etc. and is charged by the police for this, then specific mention of this will be made in the character verification report by the police.
Such people have to be prepared for serious consequences because they will not be able to get a government job or apply for a state-owned liquor store.”
The Bihar order comes close on the heels of Uttarakhand saying that even people’s social media posts can have an impact on police verification for passports.
Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar had said that the police will maintain a record of social media posts that they think are “anti-national” or “anti-social”.
Kumar said that earlier the police would normally counsel people for their posts. But, “From now onwards, the police would scrutinise the accused person’s social media behaviour to check if he is habitual of putting such anti-national posts.
If it is found, then the police would not clear his police verification, needed while applying for passport or arms license.”
According to the report the decision was taken after the police said that there was an increase in the number of people posting ‘anti-national’ posts on social media.
The police however has not come up specifics on what it considers anti-national or violent activity. There are worries that the law may be misused by the law enforcment agencies to oppress protestors or those with differing opinions on social media.