Alleging Harassment, Citizen Moves High Court Challenging Geo-tagging of 'Criminals' in Telangana
Alleging harassment by police in the name of survey, Abdul Hafeez, resident of Kalwakurthy, has filed a petition in the High Court questioning the process and argued why people booked for petty cases are being geo-tagged as criminals.
'Sakala Nerasthula Samagra Survey' was aimed at identifying and geo-tagging details of criminals, which would help police in keeping a track of repeat offenders and hardened criminals, and ensure fast investigation after a crime is committed. (YouTube)
Hyderabad: In a bid to curb criminal activities in Telangana, a comprehensive survey to "geo-tag" criminals, titled 'Sakala Nerasthula Samagra Survey' was launched in January this year.
The survey aimed at identifying and geo-tagging details of criminals, which would help police in keeping a track of repeat offenders and hardened criminals, and ensure fast investigation after a crime is committed.
However, alleging harassment by police in the name of survey, Abdul Hafeez, resident of Kalwakurthy, has filed a petition in the High Court questioning the process and argued why people booked for petty cases are being geo-tagged as criminals?
A case was registered against Abdul in 2010, under section 420 and 465 of the IPC in Kalwakurthy police station, for an alleged filing of an RTI application. After trial, in 2013, Abdul was acquitted in the same case.
Speaking to CNN-News18, Abdul said, "The DGP circular says objective of the survey is to cover serious and repeat offenders who need to be kept under police surveillance on regular basis. But SHO Kalwakurthy is harassing me even after I was acquitted in the case years ago. I am being forced to give my details such as fingerprints, Aadhaar card, PAN card, passport, voter ID card details."
"I am not a criminal. I have not committed any heinous crime such as murder, robbery or kidnapping, it was a wrong case against me. The police are behaving in illegal and arbitrary manner, which is in violation to the fundamental rights guaranteed under Constitution", Abdul added.
Across districts, in the survey being conducted by Telangana police, offenders with a criminal history in last 10 years are being enrolled in the database, which includes taking their fingerprints, photographs, family details, contact details such as address, phone number, etc and other details which include ration cards, voter ID, etc to create a 360 degree profile.
Many citizens in the state are raising questions over the entire process and called it violation of human rights.
Lubna, an activist, told CNN-News18, "Bizarre things are being done by government here. Geo-tagging is done of immovable things, but here geo-tagging of humans is being done. It shows incapacity of department in maintaining law and order. How can police infringe upon the rights of the people. It’s a draconian order".
"How is it justified to bring in the families and the children into the police surveillance. It is nothing but harassment. Instead of ending crime, why is the police labelling the entire family as a criminal? There are several cases against ruling party leaders, will they be also geo-tagged? asked Krishank, spokesperson of the Congress.
The police say the process will create an environment of deterrence against crime and fear among criminals of getting caught. But the question is, is geo-tagging individuals not a violation of fundamental right?
The hearing of the case is listed for next week now.
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