The Uttar Pradesh Special Security Force Act (SSF Act), which empowers the newly-established Special Security Force to search and arrest without a warrant, is “an undemocratic and anti-people law”, the Congress said on Tuesday.
Reacting to the enactment of the act, UP Congress president Ajay Kumar Lallu said that, “The SSF Act is an attempt to silence Opposition leaders, social activists and critics of the Yogi government”.
Terming the act as “a black law” which will be use to crush the Opposition, Lallu raised the question over the need for creation of a new ‘special force’ on tax payers’ money.
Talking to NH, Lallu said, “At a time when the country is facing a serious economic crisis – people are dying out of hunger, lakhs have lost their livelihood, farmers are committing suicide on daily basis – the Yogi government is setting up a new force instead of setting up factories and industries”.
The minority cell of Uttar Pradesh Congress too has expressed serious apprehensions about the law. Saying that “irrespective of what is being said on paper, the law will be used to target the minority community”, head of the cell Shahnawaz Alam said, “We have sought legal advice on the issue. We will see if the law can be challenged in court.”
The Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly passed the Uttar Pradesh Special Security Force Bill 2020 recently in its monsoon session, paving the way for the constitution of the specialized force.
Considered as a dream project of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, raising the Special Security Force (SSF) will cost Rs 1,747.06 crore to the public exchequer. Initially, five battalions of SSF will be constituted with 1,913 personnel in the first phase. The total strength of the force will be 9,919 personnel.
Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Kumar Awasthi has directed the director general of police (DGP) to submit a road map for constitution of the SSF with a proposal for various posts in the force within seven days and rules for implementation of the SSF Act within 15 days.
Samajwadi Party, the main Opposition party in Uttar Pradesh Assembly, said the government is trying to suppress constitutional rights.
Meanwhile, former police officers said that the “apprehension expressed by the two main Opposition parties in UP is a little exaggerated”. But at the same time, the government will have to ensure that the law is not misused, they said.
Former UP DGP Vikram Singh said that given the “changed security scenario and new challenges, a new force equipped with modern technology is the need of the time.”
“To avoid the misuse of the search and arrest power, the government will have to fix responsibility. Senior officers will have to set up a mechanism,” he said.
Echoing Vikram Singh’s views, former IPS officer and Dalit activist SR Darapuri said, “Need for the setting up of a new force for the security of government offices, religious sites etc was felt for a long time by the police department…As far as the power to search and arrest without a warrant is concerned, there are already several forces which have similar powers”.