With the model code of conduct coming into force for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Uttar Pradesh Police, touted as the world’s largest single command armed police force, had advised cops to exercise restraint over social media activities.
UP Director General of Police (DGP) O P Singh has underlined the uniformed cops ought not to be seen or perceived as favouring a particular political party or candidate through their social media updates.
In the poll related advisory issued last evening, the cops have been asked not to accept any gift from any political party or candidate in light of the model code of conduct. Besides, the policemen have been directed to desist from posting politically coloured social media updates as well for the sake of being impartial and non-partisan during the polls.
The state cops have also been advised against indulging in harassment of political functionaries at the behest of rival political party or leader, while ensuring that the policemen do not, through their conduct, express support for a political personality or formation.
At the same time, the UP cops have been directed not to discuss topics related to the voting preferences for any political party or leader.
Meanwhile, the UP DGP advisory also covered other heads pertaining to discharging their duties before and during the polling process in the state, which accounts for the maximum number of 80 LS seats.
In October 2018, DGP Singh had issued a similar 17 point charter for cops seeking to censure such social media activities, which could potentially earn disrepute to UP Police or be deemed indiscipline. At that time, the UP Police, which has a strength of nearly half-million, was facing apparent disenchantment among a section of constabulary over the sacking of constable Prashant Chaudhary, accused of killing Apple executive Vivek Tiwari in Lucknow.
The sacked constable had been garnering voices of support over social media with some lower ranked cops even soliciting funds from people for him to fight the court case. Tiwari was allegedly shot by Chaudhary in the early hrs of September 29 in the posh Gomti Nagar locality of Lucknow, when he was on way to drop his female companion. The accused cop claimed he had fired in self defense after Tiwari allegedly tried to run him over with his SUV. A murder case was filed and Chaudhary was sacked from the service.
On Sunday, the Election Commission of India (ECI) had announced the schedule for polls, which would be held in seven phases between April 11 and May 19 with the counting of votes to be held on May 23. Votes would be cast on April 11, 18, 23 and 29 and May 6, 12 and 19, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora had told newspersons in New Delhi.