Patna, Feb 4 : The directive by the government in Bihar about action against those who make undignified remarks on social media against ministers, public representatives and goverment officials is snowballing into a major political issue.
The police, however, have clarified and said that the order is being misinterpreted. Still, opposition parties in Bihar are constantly questioning it.
Bihar Police DGP S K Singhal had said in an order on Feb 1: “If any person, after being part of law and order situation..protests, road blockades, etc, is found to be involved in any criminal activity and is charge-sheeted in the case then related information must be entered into character verification report. Such persons would have to be ready for serious consequences because they won’t be able to get a government job or contract.”
It may be mentioned that character verification has now been made mandatory in government contracts. This requires police verification for a number of documents such as passports, arms licences, government contract jobs, petrol pumps, gas agencies, NGOs receiving any kind of government assistance, etc.
Opposition leaders say the diktat has been issued to threaten those agitating against the government. Also, CM Nitish Kumar is himself a product of the Jayaprakash Narayan movement. In the light of this, such a strong government diktat is beyond one’s comprehension.
Says RJD national vice president Shivanand Tiwari. “This is the same Nitish Kumar who had opposed the Bill brought by the Congress government in Bihar in 1983 against the Press. He cannot be a true disciple of Ram Manohar Lohia and JP.”
Last month, additional director general of Police, Economic Offences Unit, Nayyar Hasnain Khan had written in a letter to principal secretaries and secretaries of the government: “It has come to light that certain persons and organisations have been making defamatory and offensive comments on social media against the government, respected ministers, parliamentarians, legislators, and government officials. This is against prescribed law and comes under the category of cybercrime,” said the letter. For this, lawful action is required to be taken against such persons and groups, it added.
Khan further said in the letter that on receipt of such information, it may be communicated to the Economic Offences Unit, the nodal institution for economic offences as well as cyber crime.
The Home Department, in a letter sent to the Director General of Police and heads of all departments on January 25, had said that a character certificate is necessary for contract or contract at various departments. The order also says that those who are already working should also be asked for a character certificate.
“The Bihar Police order is being misinterpreted,” said Jitendra Kumar, additional director general of Police (law and order), Bihar. “This order does not curb any democratic rights,” he added.
He, however, affirmed that if someone is indeed involved in any criminal activity during violent protests, it will be mentioned in one’s character certificate.