Lucknow: Police in Uttar Pradesh booked a former IAS officer Thursday night after he raised questions about the state’s testing protocol on Twitter. The officer, Surya Pratap Singh, has been booked under the Disaster Management Act and the Epidemic Act for allegedly spreading rumours about the Covid-19 pandemic.
The FIR came after Singh, in a tweet Wednesday night, referred to allegations that the chief secretary had threatened some district magistrates for conducting more coronavirus tests.
“After CM Yogi’s Team-11 meeting, did the chief secretary threaten some DMs for conducting more corona tests? Did he say, ‘Why are you acting so fast? What reward are you after by calling for tests?’,” he tweeted, adding “No Test=No Corona”.
CM योगी की Team-11 की मीटिंग के बाद क्या मुख्यसचिव ने ज्यादा Corona Tests कराने वाले कुछ DMs को हड़काया कि "क्यों इतनी तेजी पकडे हो, क्या ईनाम पाना है, जो टेस्ट-2 चिल्ला रहे हो ?"@ChiefSecyUP स्थिति स्पष्ट करेंगे?
यूपी की स्ट्रेटेजी:
No Test =No Corona @CMOfficeUP @UPGovt
— Surya Pratap Singh IAS Rtd. (@suryapsingh_IAS) June 10, 2020
In the FIR, lodged at the Hazratganj police station in Lucknow, accessed by ThePrint, the former IAS officer’s tweets have been labelled “misleading” and “mischievous”. Singh’s tweets, it says, are creating confusion in people’s mind.
Speaking to ThePrint, Hazratganj police station in-charge Ashwani Kumar Pandey said they filed the case on the basis of a complaint against Singh’s tweets, lodged by the secretariat police post in-charge, Subhash Kumar Singh. The latter, Pandey said, had claimed the former IAS was spreading rumours on social media.
Former IAS officer Singh, however, defended his claims about low testing in Uttar Pradesh, and said in a tweet Thursday night that he “will continue to regularly question the government”.
मीडिया के सूत्रों से अपुष्ट खबर आ रही है कि टीम-11 पर किए मेरे के ट्वीट पर सरकार ने मेरे ऊपर मुक़दमा कर दिया है। सबसे पहले तो मैं ये साफ कर देना चाहता हूँ कि उत्तरप्रदेश सरकार की पॉलिसी पर दिए ‘No Test, No Corona’ वाले बयान पर मैं अडिग हूँ, और सरकार से निरंतर सवाल पूछता रहूँगा।
— Surya Pratap Singh IAS Rtd. (@suryapsingh_IAS) June 11, 2020
‘What wrong have I done?’
A retired IAS officer of the 1982 batch, S.P. Singh has been known to be vocal against the governments in office, even while in service.
During Akhilesh Yadav’s tenure (2012-2017) as chief minister, Singh was known to raise questions about alleged corruption in the government. Over a 25-year career, he was transferred 54 times.
There was speculation that he would contest the 2017 UP assembly elections on a Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD, led by Ajit Singh) ticket but he did not.
In another tweet Thursday about the FIR, he said he had earned the praise of BJP leaders for raising questions about the Akhilesh Yadav government.
“While still being an IAS, I had started an agitation against the previous government. At the time, even the bigger leaders of the BJP never got tired of patting my back. Former CM Akhilesh Yadav never took my movement personally. But today I am shocked by the attitude of a government that talks too much about protesting against the ‘freedom of expression’,” he said.
Speaking to ThePrint, S.P. Singh said it is necessary to question the government. “I only raised questions about the low level of testing. What sort of crime is it? It remains a fact that several persons have talked about very little testing being done in the state,” he added.
“UP has a population of more than 200 million and only half a million (5 lakh) have been tested so far. That means not even 1 per cent of the population has been tested. In several districts, there is very less testing because there are no testing centres,” he said. “So, what wrong have I done by raising questions?”
Singh’s allegations come amid the UP government’s claims that it is working to ramp up testing. At a press conference Thursday evening, principal secretary (health and family welfare) Amit Mohan Prasad said UP is conducting above 15,000 Covid-19 tests everyday.
“We are now striving for the next level, which is 20,000 tests a day. We are trying our best,” he added.