Retired civil servants flag ‘breakdown of governance’ in U.P.

Ruling regime swerving away from the values of the Constitution, they say

A group of retired civil servants on Friday wrote an open letter to raise concerns over what they termed was the “breakdown of governance” and “blatant violation of the rule of law” in Uttar Pradesh.

The letter, signed by 87 members of the Constitutional Conduct Group and endorsed by 236 other people including Justice (retired) A.P. Shah, activists and academics, said: “We note with mounting alarm that the present ruling regime in U.P. has ushered in a model of governance which swerves further and further away from the values of the Constitution and the rule of law with each passing day.”

It said detentions, criminal charges and recoveries were commonly used against those who exercised their right to protest. It said the case of Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, who was arrested while on his way to report on the case of gang-rape of a 19-year-old Dalit girl in Hathras, was particularly egregious. The letter highlighted the number of encounter killings from 2017 to 2020 and termed “encounter injuries and killings as official hate targeting”.

“From 2017 to 2020, 124 alleged criminals were shot dead in 6,476 ‘encounters’, according to data compiled and released by the U.P. police to the media. The word ‘encounters’ has been used to also include the infliction of serious injuries caused, for example, by shooting a person in both knees and leaving him disabled for life,” the letter said, adding that Muslims, Dalits and OBCs were killed predominantly.

The letter also flagged the State’s handling of COVID-19 during the second wave, in which sights of “dead bodies floating in the Ganga” were seen.

“The world bore witness to the catastrophe that the people of U.P. had to endure owing to the failure of the government to act in time. Reports from crematoria show that across districts, deaths are being massively undercounted in Uttar Pradesh,” it said.

The group called for an end to arbitrary detentions and torture as well as the policies of institutionalisation and legitimisation of vigilantism.

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