The police in Bihar and Uttarakhand have issued orders in the first week of February according to which people participating in protest actions, or voicing their opinions through social media, will have to face adverse consequences for their actions and views.
According to the Indian Express (February 4, 2021), an order issued by the Director General of Police of Bihar warned that persons indulging in criminal activities during law and order incidents, protest demonstrations, and sadak jaam and further are named in a charge-sheet, would find it difficult to get passports, government jobs, financial grants by the state or even bank loans.
The Bihar order, issued on February 1, reportedly said, “All this will be duly mentioned in the Police Verification Report. Such people should be ready for grave consequences.” Bihar DGP SK Singhal’s order listed nine services for which police verification is needed: government jobs, work contracts for government projects, arms licences, passports, character certificates, licences for petrol pumps and gas agencies, bank loans, contractual work for government-aided organisations, and any other work for which police may consider a verification necessary.
The Uttarakhand police has issued a circular announcing that it will monitor posts on social media for whether they are “anti-national” and “anti-social”.
According to the Indian Express, at a conference of police officers on February 2, Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar asked the police to maintain a record of people who post “anti-national” or “anti-social” content on social media. Asked by journalists as to what would constitute as “anti national” comments, the DGP reportedly said, “Whoever is writing against national unity and integrity, that is anti-national.” “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,” the DGP reportedly said.
The orders issued by the Bihar police in a state which has a history of active participation of workers, peasants, youth and students in struggle for rights, is clearly aimed at terrorising the people to give up their just struggles for rights.
The order passed by the Uttarakhand government on posts in social media is clearly aimed at ensuring that people do not express views critical of the government in social media.
These orders must be seen in the light of the Central government’s concerted effort to paint the struggle of the peasants in defence of their livelihood and rights and the just demand for the repeal of the anti-peasant laws as “anti-national”. The Central government is charging leaders of the struggling peasant organisations under UAPA and other draconian laws, blocking internet services at protest sites. It has unleashed its machinery of repression, including the Police, Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax Department, etc to persecute all opponents.
The Indian ruling class is increasingly resorting to police powers to crush all opposition to its rule. The recent orders issued by the Bihar and Uttarakhand police threatening those participating in struggles for their rights, or expressing views critical of the government, are in line with this.