The Uttar Pradesh government on 5 November declared 14 persons who had rioted or instigated riots — in the name of ‘democratic’ protest against the amended citizenship law (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) — as absconders and announced a cash reward for their arrest.
The state government has declared eight of these rioters as wanted under the Gangster Act, putting a cash reward on their heads. The administration put up notices outside their houses.
The Uttar Pradesh government accused the absconders of arson, spreading communal disharmony and causing damage to public properties during the anti-CAA, NRC protest in Lucknow that turned violent. The accused include Shi’ah cleric Maulana Saif Abbas.
The administration pasted pictures of the accused at many places across the old city area and near Imambara.
The police arrested more than 40 people, including social workers and a retired IPS officer, following the violent protests in Lucknow in December last year that cost the life of one.
Moreover, posters with pictures of 12 people who allegedly took part in a violent protest against the citizenship law last year and are absconding have resurfaced in Lucknow’s Hazratganj. Earlier, the administration had put up hoardings with photographs, names and addresses of those accused of vandalism during protests in December last year, leading to a major controversy.
On 9 March, The Allahabad High Court had directed the Lucknow administration to remove posters displaying pictures. If that turned the visualisation of the suspected rioters vague, here comes the cash reward, an incentive to find them again.
Later, the Supreme Court told the Uttar Pradesh government that as of now, there was no law that could back their action of putting up the names of protesters. An apex court bench refused to stay the 9 March Allahabad High Court order directing the Yogi Adityanath administration to remove the posters.
The new citizenship law amends the Citizenship Act, 1955, to make people from Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Christian and Parsi faiths who entered India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for citizenship based on their complaint of persecution in the Islamic countries.
In Assam, vested interests misled a section of the people, telling them that the amended citizenship law would nullify the 1985 Assam Accord, which fixed 24 March 1971 as the cut-off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants irrespective of religion. Leftist activists claimed that the NRC process was aimed against all illegal immigrants and the citizenship law would selectively benefit non-Muslim migrants into Assam. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Finance, Transformation & Development, Health & Family Welfare, PWD, Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, however, pacified the population of natives in Assam successfully.