Lucknow: Former bureaucrat Surya Pratap Singh has been garnering a lot of attention for his critical tweets against the Yogi Adityanath-led government in Uttar Pradesh, and the subsequent FIRs that have been filed against him.
The latest of these cases was filed against Singh earlier this week, after he shared an allegedly doctored audio where two unidentified men could be heard demanding money to support the UP chief minister on Twitter. In his tweet, Singh called the audio ‘Yogi ka toolkit’.
The FIR was lodged by Kanpur Police on the complaint of Atul Kushwaha, who accused Singh and two others of defaming him and Yogi Adityanath. The three were booked under Section 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code.
On Saturday, Singh was also questioned by a team of police officers at his Lucknow residence for over six hours. He said that it was a bid to intimidate him and to silence him from raising issues.
Meanwhile, the Unnao Police tweeted Sunday: “It was a routine investigative procedure in which an investigating officer along with a sub-inspector and one sub-inspector from the local police station went to his house to serve a notice under CrPC 41-A. The whole procedure finished within 45 minutes, and it was according to orders from the Allahabad High Court and due process.”
— UNNAO POLICE (@unnaopolice) June 5, 2021
But the 66-year-old former IAS officer is no stranger to such cases. In the past year, a total of six FIRs have been filed against him for allegedly spreading misinformation, with two of them being registered in May 2021 alone.
This is a fact mentioned in his Twitter profile as well, where he has over 1,59,000 followers. “Yogi Sarkar se Sawaal poochne per 6 FIR ka Tamga Prapt (Awarded with six FIRs for asking the Yogi government questions,” reads his bio.
However, it hasn’t stopped him from raising such questions. “I have always raised my voice against wrong in every government. I am not afraid of anyone. I will continue raising my voice,” Singh told ThePrint.
He added that the FIRs have been filed against him for drawing public attention to pertinent issues plaguing the state such as shortages of oxygen and medicine, and dead bodies floating in the river Ganga.
मैं उत्तरप्रदेश का सबसे बड़ा अपराधी सूर्यप्रताप सिंह एक बार फिर आप सभी से बात करने आया हूँ।
देश भर से मिल रहे प्रेम और उत्साव के लिए आप सभी को धन्यवाद देने आया हूँ।
— Surya Pratap Singh IAS Rtd. (@suryapsingh_IAS) June 2, 2021
Six cases in 12 months
Singh’s altercation with the Yogi government began last year during the prolonged nationwide lockdown when he raised the issue of low testing in UP.
In June 2020, Singh was booked for allegedly posting ‘misinformation’ on social media, related to the state government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He had tweeted that a senior bureaucrat, after meeting CM Adityanath, had scolded a district manager for proposing more Covid tests. Singh had also questioned the government strategy of low testing to keep the Covid numbers of the state low.
The following month, in July 2020, another FIR was registered against the retired officer for allegedly tweeting misinformation about corruption in electricity metres in the district of Gorakhpur.
A third case was registered against Singh in October 2020 after he tweeted about a murder case in Kasganj, where a mother and daughter were killed after being crushed by a tractor. However, the ex-IAS officer had said that it was a case of gang rape but later deleted the tweet.
Last month, two cases were registered against him for two different incidents. In early May, Singh had tweeted a video claiming that the body of a Covid patient was found in a drain in Varanasi. However, the police said that the video was actually from September 2020 and booked him for it.
On 13 May, another FIR was lodged against the former bureaucrat for allegedly tweeting a seven-year-old photograph of dead bodies floating in the Ganga. He had claimed that the bodies were recently spotted in the rive in Ballia.
According to Singh, he is being targeted for raising the “voice of the common man”.
“I am talking about deaths of the people without medical care, paucity of beds and oxygen in hospitals and the way dead bodies are being thrown in the rivers. I am doing what mainstream media is not doing. Did any organisation raise the issue of corruption in the information department of the Yogi government? No, they didn’t dare to do this. But I did,” he told ThePrint.
‘Transferred 54 times during posting’
Singh, a resident of Bulandshahr, was part of the 1982 batch of IAS officers and retired in 2015 after serving several departments in Uttar Pradesh.
According to Singh, in his career spanning 25 years, he was transferred 54 times. His last posting was as principal secretary in the UP government’s public enterprises department and director-general of the public enterprises bureau.
Before joining the IAS, he served as an Indian Police Services officer.
He was a popular officer when he was in service. People allegedly staged protests on his transfer from their districts, even setting up roadblocks in some cases. According to a source, Nainital had observed a week-long bandh after he was transferred.
DM और जनता के बीच का यह सम्बंध उस दौर की कहानी है। जब ज़िले के हर घर को परिवार माना जाता था और उनकी समस्याओं को अपनी निजी समस्या।
आज सरकारी कुर्सी ऊँची होती जा रही है और आम जन साहबान की आँख में आँख डाल कर बात भी नहीं कर सकती।
सीनियर्स का मैं कृतज्ञ हूँ की आपने ऐसी व्यवस्था दी। pic.twitter.com/cQIEvxeHZx
— Surya Pratap Singh IAS Rtd. (@suryapsingh_IAS) June 3, 2021
A source close to Singh, meanwhile, said that he questioned the government even when Samajwadi Party was in power, with Akhilesh Yadav as CM. He particularly raised the issue of a running scam in the Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission (UPPSC) in 2017.
Singh also concurred that questioning the ruling government was not new to him, but this is the first time the government filed cases against him.
“I raised corruption issues during the Akhilesh government also but no FIR was registered against me during that time, but this government is filing FIRs again and again against me. They do not tolerate any voice against them,” he told ThePrint.
He added: “I never attacked the CM personally. I never used foul language against him or for that matter against any other person. My endeavour is to improve the system and I am raising questions so that the government can find suitable solutions.”
This report has been updated to include the statement by Unnao Police.
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