A Congress worker put up posters with photographs of CM Yogi Adityanath, Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya and other BJP leaders who were accused in cases of 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots with a message saying, “when will recovery be done from these rioters”. (File photo)
Two Congress workers here were sent to jail on Sunday, a day after being arrested for putting up posters in which Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, and other BJP leaders were labelled “rioters”.
The posters, which carried the photographs of the BJP leaders, were put up on Friday night, days after the city administration erected hoardings with the pictures of people who have received government notices seeking damages for properties destroyed during anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests here in December.
“People want answers,” read one poster. “When will recovery happen from these rioters?” Referring to Adityanath, it said: “According to Lok Sabha poll affidavit, he is the main accused for inciting Gorakhpur riots and five serious cases.” The poster said Maurya was also accused of rioting, and was facing 11 cases in Kaushambi.
The two Congress workers arrested on Saturday night were identified as Sudhanshu Bajpai and Ashwini. A third party worker, identified as Laalu Kannaujia, was also allegedly involved in the incident. The police mentioned Bajpai and Kannaujia in the FIR lodged on Saturday “as their names were written on the poster”.
“They have been booked because the hoarding does not have the name of the publisher which is compulsory,” Lucknow DCP (Central) Dinesh Singh said Saturday. “Another section for defacement of public property under the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act has been slapped against them.” They have been also been booked under IPC Section 505(1)(b) — with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquility) — and the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867.
A police officer said Ashwini’s scooter was used when the poster was plastered outside the BJP headquarters. “We found that out during the probe when CCTV in the area was scanned,” he added.
State Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu lashed out at the government over the arrests. “This government does not follow the rule of law,” he told reporters. “It does what it wants to in a vindictive manner.” The Opposition party also held a protest at the Gandhi Pratima area here.
Lallu accused the BJP of seeking to suppress dissent. “If there is so much of anger [due to such posters], imagine what will happen when their unlawful activities are unmasked before the public,” said the Congress leader. “I want to gift the Indian Constitution to him [Adityanath], so that he reads it thoroughly. He wants to run the state like his mutt, which is completely unconstitutional.” Adityanath is chief priest of the Gorakhnath Mutt.
BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi said the Congress should have done the “sensible” thing by suspending the cadres responsible for such a “cheap gimmick”. “This is not a matter of politics,” he added. “The police and the administration have conducted a probe, and based on that and the rules they have lodged the case and made the arrests.” —(With inputs from PTI)