A group of Indian citizens, including former judges, bureaucrats and police and military officers, launched a scathing attack on Monday on a recent “irresponsible and wholly misconceived statement" against the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh that accused it of crushing dissent by suppressing democratic protests.
They said it is a matter of concern that a group of retired civil servants aligned to a “particular political stream despite overtly posing as non-political", use every opportunity to put the Indian democracy, its institutions, and persons legitimately holding high offices in poor light by making ill-considered public statements or writing misconceived communications to various authorities.
The 151 signatories to the statement include former UP chief secretary Yogendra Narain, former Sikkim High Court chief justice Permod Kohli and former CBI director Nageshwar Rao, among others.
Their statement is being seen as a response to another group of former civil servants, IPS officials and others who have repeatedly attacked the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government in UP for allegedly using authoritarian tactics to gag dissenters.
Here’s Monday’s statement in full and in original form:
This is a Forum of Concerned Citizens from various walks of life including Judiciary, Civil and Police services, Armed Forces, Academia, Professionals and other intellectuals with an unshakable belief in the greatness of Indian democracy and its sacred institutions, the sovereignty and integrity of India, a robust economy and a cohesive society knitted in the fabric woven from the highest human values. The letter expresses concern over this group who overtly poses as ‘non-political’, makes ill-considered public statements. This politically motivated pressure-group does not represent thousands of former Civil Servants, Police and other AIS Officers, of Defense Forces, Professionals, and other nationalist intellectuals who believe in India emerging as the greatest democracy of the world and a global icon bringing pride to every Indian.
The recent statement containing its judgmental allegations against Uttar Pradesh government under the garb of protecting the Constitution of India, is an irresponsible and wholly misconceived statement. Alleging that petty criminals or innocent citizens, and predominantly Muslims, Dalits and OBC’s are being eliminated through police encounters in Uttar Pradesh is a very serious allegation, which is more so against our fellow civil servants from IAS and IPS cadres, and other state officers. On cross checking facts, it has been learnt that from 20.3.2017 to 11.7.2021, a total of 8367 police encounters took place in Uttar Pradesh, a total of 18025 criminals suffered injuries, out of which 3246 arrested and 140 lost their lives. The so called “innocents” and “petty criminals” 115 out of 140 Criminals were carrying rewards’; 21 out of them carried reward of Rs. 50,000 each , and 9 of them carried rewards of Rs. 1.5 lakh. Only 51out of 140 criminals killed in police encounters were from minority communities. 13 Policemen were killed in the so called ‘fake’ encounters, and another 1140 Policemen were injured. Enough checks and balances are in place, from magisterial enquiry to NHRC, and the PUCL guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court. Out of the 140 police encounters in which magisterial inquiries were ordered till 11.7.2021, enquiry reports have been submitted in case of 96 encounters, and 81 have been accepted by the courts. The ‘political agenda’ group, while levelling false allegations, has gone horribly wrong on facts, and haywire in its analysis.
A mention has been made of Journalist Siddiqui Kappan from Kerala, who was arrested from district Mathura while on his way to Hathras for attending last rites of a rape victim in view of volatile law and order situation, which is the purview of local police and magistracy. Mr Kappan is allegedly an active member of radical Popular Front of India (PFI), and was sent to judicial custody as per law of the land, and he has been denied bail on merits by competent courts. Regarding the allegation of crushing dissent by suppressing democratic protests during CAA, NRC agitation by registering cases against ‘peaceful’ protestors, arrests and recoveries from people under the Recovery of Damages To Public and Private Property Ordinance 2020, it has been reiterated that protesters cannot be called ‘peaceful’ and ‘innocent’ if found indulging in ransacking and destruction of public property. Violators of laws do have to face the consequences, and there is no denying the fact that in the face of any allegation of accesses, there are ample judicial safeguards against any arbitrary action of the State. No group of ex-civil servants can sit in judgment over the integrity and professionalism of the working civil servants in a government, who are their own successors in the hot seats. Such irresponsible statements are highly injurious to the morale of serving civil servants, and an unwarranted defamation of democratically elected governments by politically motivated activists in the garb of self-proclaimed ombudsmen.
Regarding the allegation of legitimising vigilantism in Uttar Pradesh, the complainant group of ex-civil servants has lost sight of the fact that Community Policing, described as ‘S10’, was not launched by the present UP government. It was started as a pilot project beginning from one district by the previous government. 10 eminent citizens of every village were entrusted with the responsibility of resolving village level conflicts at the local level itself. ‘Police Mitra’ is a generic term used for various voluntary groups of students, NCC, NSS, Civil Defence volunteers etc who help Police in various community Policing initiatives, festivals, disaster management, traffic regulation etc. Prantiya Raksha Dal has been adjunct of the Government ever since it’s formation in 1947, and performs duties assigned to it by the administration; and has nothing to do with vigilantism. Such allegations from experience civil servants of the past are either politically motivated, or naïve.
A look at comprehensive findings of 8th Report of VII State Law Commission under the Chairmanship of Justice Aditya Nath Mittal would have made this complainant group of former public servants to desist from making wholly misconceived remarks about the rationale, intent and purpose of the UP law against unlawful conversions. They should also have kept in mind that even prior to India’s independence, during the British Raj, princely states including Kota, Patna, Surguja, Udaipur, and Kalahandi passed laws regarding religious conversions.
After Independence Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand etc. had legislated on matters relating to unlawful conversions. New laws reflect the evolving needs of a dynamic society. The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 applies to every one belonging to any religion, provides for regulation of conversion through prescribed declaration and giving notice to authorities for ruling out unlawful conversions based on misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement, fraudulent means, marriages etc. It rightly provides that the marriages done for sole purpose of unlawful conversion can be declared void by the Family Courts on a petition by any of the two parties in a marriage. The said law safeguards the dignity of women involved in marriages leading to conversions, and further makes a special provision in favour of minors, women or anyone belonging to Scheduled Castes / Scheduled Tribes.
It is really strange that a mature elderly group of former public servants, while hastily generalizing on the basis of one such incident, have lost sight of large number of incidents where hapless victim women have been brutally murdered in a ghastly manner in the course of inter-faith marriages and conversions. For example, such horrifying cases as that of 19 years old Ms. Ekta who was murdered and buried in Village Lohia in PS Dorala (Meerut) on 14.06.2019, Ms. Chanchal Chaudhary and her minor daughter who were murdered and buried inside the room of their house itself on 28.03.2020 in P.S. Partapur (Meerut), the 23-year-old Ms Priya, who was brutally murdered in Sonabhadra when she refused to convert to Islam after marriage, are just a few of series of incidents which should have been looked at seriously before taking a ridiculous sweeping position. In view of the above, we totally reject and disassociate from the wholly misconceived point of view of some of our fellow retired civil servants.
The National Security Act of 1980 empowers the Governments all over India to detain a person to prevent him/her from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. Special advisory boards and Courts oversee the objectivity and fairness of the process. It is in vogue and had been put to appropriate use wherever desirable during the service career of all the ex civil servants who are now complaining about it. Linking NSA exclusively to cow slaughter by giving wrong statistics of the year 2020 is highly prejudiced. NSA was imposed in 222 total matters in 2020, out of which only 88 cases were related to cow slaughter in those cases of cow slaughter which fall under the purview of NSA as a serious threat to public order in a sensitive State. Article 48 of the Constitution of India directs the State to make efforts for banning animal slaughtering of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle. Uttar Pradesh Cow Slaughter Prevention (Amendment) Act, 2020 has been enacted to fulfil the Constitutional mandate by making Uttar Pradesh Cow Slaughter Prevention Act more effective and result oriented. As many as 118 of these 222 cases are related to heinous offences; and only 19 cases are related with damages of public property during the CAA protests. Hence the narrative attempted by the group of complainant former civil servants etc. is in fact a huge distortion.
While levelling biased allegations regarding handling of Covid19 pandemic in Uttar Pradesh, the ex-Civil Servants have blamed their successor in-service civil servants in an absolutely mindless fashion. They have lost sight of the fact that during Covid-19, about 40 Lakh migrant workers were sent to their place of original residence in an unprecedented wave of reverse migration. They came from all over India, requiring food and shelter, besides healthcare. Uttar Pradesh was able to bring the 2nd wave of COVID under control, for example, as on 13-07-2021, the active Covid-19 caseload dipped to 1,554 with only 96 fresh cases and 112 patients recovering in 24 hours. Test Positivity Rate has fallen to 0.9 % and Recovery Rate has increased up to 98.6%. 64 plants of oxygen generation capacity of 58010 litres per minute, equivalent to 120 MT per day, have been sanctioned for the government medical colleges/institutions. State has already increased the capacity to carry out over 4 lakh tests per day with RTPCR and Antigen tests. Covid19 is an epidemic of unknown proportions, and the serving warriors have lost their lives in the process.
Scoring Brownie Points flashing some random pictures of deadbodies floating in River Ganga is aimed at damning the hard-working and fearless Corona warriors on the field, who need to be motivated and encouraged to work harder. Instead of such building a disproportionately negative narrative, these whining former civil servants should have rather opted to work as very experienced volunteers in the crisis areas for supplementing manpower resources.
We, the Concerned Citizens Forum, sincerely urge a handful of politically motivated, highly prejudiced and habitually complaining elements in our fraternity to refrain from damning the serving civil servants, besides selectively denigrating the democratically elected State Governments. Rather than pursuing a covert agenda through a false narrative, we should be seen as persons of intellectual integrity, objectivity and fairness, of grace and dignity, for retaining our respect in the civil society.
Yogendra Narain, IAS
Former Chief Secretary, UP
Former Secretary-General of Rajya Sabha