Revengeful actions by the state cannot ensure rule of law, they are illegal, amoral and unconstitutional
Ajay Singh Bisht alias Yogi Adityanath holds a constitutional position by virtue of being the chief minister of India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh. He is obligated to not just maintain law and order in his state but also to uphold the rule of law. His actions, ever since his rise to power, embodied in the staging of enmasse fake encounters and creation of anti-Romeo squads, however, have suggested a brazen abuse of his constitutional position. In the last two weeks, his government has hit an all time low while dealing with anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests. The kind of violence perpetrated on the protestors, majority of them peacefully agitating, in exercise of their constitutional powers and fundamental rights to protest, has been brutal, unconstitutional and unprecedented. Much worse, it is inspired by communal bias as one community has been singled out to face the state’s fascist tyranny and is vindictive to the core. Shamefully, the manner in which the Uttar Pradesh administration and government is throwing its weight behind the unjustifiable police actions draws legitimacy from the shocking, barbaric and undemocratic remarks of the chief minister himself, who began speaking about ‘revenge’ as soon as protests broke out in the state.

Clearly, the Yogi government has displayed unabashed contempt for the law and the constitution in the name of maintaining law and order. 19 people have been killed and over 1100 arrested in different cases in Uttar Pradesh and atleast 5500 are reported to be in preventive detention. Other than this, the UP police has been barging into homes, thrashing people and torturing them, sparing neither minors nor the women. The entire official machinery has been designed to fulfill the desire of the chief minister of the state to take revenge on the protestors and rioters with lines between those taking to violent rioting and peaceful protests completely blurred. Scores of senior activists including Sadaf Jafar, Deepak Kabir, former IPS officer, S.R. Darapuri and lawyer, Mohammed Shoaib are put behind bars. Congress party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi was roughed up and stopped from proceeding to meet the incarcerated activists.

To Yogi Adityanath goes the credit of turning Uttar Pradesh into a police state where police has been emboldened to become a communalized force unleashing state terror on its hapless citizens. The administration itself has taken law into its hands by seizing properties of those alleged to be rioting and protesting or serving notices of monetary damages to them without even a court trial. While there is little or no evidence of their involvement in the destruction of public property, the targeted people are being harassed with such cases and khap justice which if put to judicial scrutiny could easily be declared illegal. As of now, however, it has created immense terror in the minds of peace-loving citizens particularly the Muslim minorities. Whether or not this state sponsored terror in Uttar Pradesh enjoys the blessings of New Delhi or not, this method of madness is inspiring other chief ministers in BJP ruled states. Yogi’s counterpart from Karnataka has already openly declared to emulate the policy of targeting suspected protestors and seizing their properties for state auction. It is anybody’s guess that majority of the victims would be those who were not involved in rioting and happen to be Muslims.

This is a condemnable attempt to further dispossess, deprive and disempower a community totally. Such ruthless policies need to be opposed. If the Centre does not have either the gall or the inclination, the burden of resisting such unconstitutional and undemocratic methods of gagging people falls on the secular liberals of the country. They must sustain the movement that started spontaneously against CAA and NRC as well as work towards ensuring it remains peaceful.