A retired IAS officer of the 1982 batch, Surya Pratap Singh, against whom an FIR has been lodged by Lucknow Police for allegedly posting misleading information about the COVID-19 crisis in the state, says he will continue questioning the Government.
The FIR lodged late on Thursday evening accuses the retired officer of posting inaccurate information insulting to the Government. Cases have been instituted under the Epidemic Act, for causing public mischief and sections of the IT Act will be added after investigation by the cyber cell, informed the police.
Police spokesman Abhay Mishra said that Singh was booked for crime committed with an intent to create fear and alarm to the public and induce them to disturb public tranquility and incite them to disobey public servants.
Singh had claimed in his post that a senior official had admonished some District Magistrates for proposing more COVID-19 tests. The senior official apparently claimed that low number of tests was part of the strategy to keep the numbers low, so as to not cause panic among the people.
This post, coming on the back of several other posts highly critical of the state government, came as the last straw for the government.
The tweet, which Singh posted from his twitter handle @suryapsinghIAS on June 10 at 9.32 pm in Hindi said, “Whether Chief Secretary has admonished some DMs for going for more COVID tests. Why are you shouting test, test.Do you want a prize? Chief secretary should clarify. UP Strategy: No Test=No Corona”
“I asked a simple question to the Chief Secretary. Is asking a question a crime? In democracy it is the right of citizens to know facts and this can only be known through asking questions. I believe what hurt the government was my tagline which says: No test = No Corona,” Singh told this reporter on telephone.
He said, “the government is patting its back saying Yogi has done good work in controlling the corona epidemic. Any sensible person would ask ‘where are the tests to prove your claim?’ I believe there are no less than 20 lakh COVID-19 cases in UP.”
Singh, hailing from Bulandshahr carries an image of a pro-poor bureaucrat. This public image had led to people staging protests when he was transferred. This happened twice when he was transferred from Nainital and Bareilly.
“What’s the use now? My good work has been undone by this action of the government,” Singh reflected on Friday.
The retired IAS officer had questioned several controversial decisions of the BJP government and had alleged that over Rs 4000 Crore would have exchanged hands during the recruitment of 69,000 teachers – the scam which took the wind out of Yogi’s claim of corruption free governance.
“My work helped BJP to come to power. I had some expectations from the government. If it fails to match that obviously I will criticisethem. When I hailed Yogi’s good decisions, I also have the right to criticise him too, when something goes wrong” Singh said.
He recalled that he had criticised Akhilesh Yadav’s decisions as CM too. “I must say never ever did Akhilesh Yadav criticised me for writing against his government. But it seems the tolerance level in this BJP government is very low,” he said.
There has been mixed reaction in thebureaucracy. Some sections say the FIR against Singh was unwarranted while others believe he (Singh) invited the wrath of the government. A few accused him of nursing political ambitions.
“He wanted to join a political party. At one time, he was very close to joining Rashtriya Lok Dal and wanted a position next to Ajit Singh. But things did not work out. He then approached a senior BJP leader but when things did not go according to his plan, he became critical of that leader and called a womanizer.
“I am an apolitical man. I do not want any post. I raised pertinent questions and will continue to do so,” Singh told this correspondent in response. (With IANS inputs)