Posting content on social media deemed 'anti-national' could bar people from availing passports and arms licenses in Uttarakhand. On the other hand, joining a protest or staging a blockade could bar one from availing bank loans, government jobs and other services in Bihar.
The orders issued by the police chiefs of the respective states has sparked a row. However, the Director General of Police in both states said that it was 'nothing new' and as per the basic structure of rules.
While addressing the Police Officers' Conference in Dehradun on Tuesday, February 3, DGP Ashok Kumar said that the department would maintain a database of social media activities that are 'anti-national' or 'anti-social', and will be used for the verification when someone applies for a passport or arms license. The decision was tabled at the two-day conference, Times Of India reported.
In the verification process, the police will cross-check whether the applicant has indulged in any activities that jeopardise the nation's sovereignty and integrity. "Along with a criminal record, we have not included social media behaviour as part of the process," Kumar added.
The decision will impact people who post content on social media, that compromises the country's sovereignty and security, and could be a possible threat to law and order, a senior official told the media.
Bihar's decision came a day before Uttarakhand announced the scope of social media scrutiny. While issuing the order on Monday, February 2, Bihar DGP S.K Singhal said that 'unlawful' protest could disqualify someone for various services in the state.
He listed nine services for which the police verification is needed and would be kept updated for verification when one applies for any of them.
The services include government jobs, character certificates, passports, arms licenses, contractual work for government-aided organisations, licenses for petrol pumps and gas agencies, bank loans and so forth.
"If any person, after being part of law and order situation, protests, road blockades, etc., is found to be involved in any criminal activity and is charge-sheeted in case. The information related to the person must be entered into a character verification report. Such persons would have to be ready to face serious consequences because they won't be able to get a government job or contract," the order read.
The rules in both states have been widely criticised, but the police said they would not bring any changes and enforce the rules strictly.
Bihar Additional Director General of Police (ADG) Jitendra Kumar told the media that all the said points were already in practice. "The instructions have just been reiterated properly," he added. Any information against people who are in the files of the department will face the consequences. Nowhere is the order imprinting anyone's rights to protest, Kumar said.