Did UP govt issue order restricting samaritans from helping migrants workers?

On May 15, President of Swaraj Abhiyan Yogendra Yadav posted an image of a notice issued by Bulandshahr police. Tweeting the notice, Yadav criticised the Uttar Pradesh government and said, “UP govt issues warning to those samaritans living on roadside who have offered rest and food to migrant labour walking in front of their house! Threatens with prosecution! Won’t help workers. Won’t let others help.” The tweet has garnered close to 900 retweets so far.

The notice says, “It is often seen that you stop walking migrants labourers in front of your residence. We have received confidential information that you lure the workers on their path to your house by distributing food and drinks at your residence. This violates the Covid-19 rules.” It further warns the concerned person that if he/she is found violating the COVID-19 rules then legal action will be taken against him/her under the Epidemic Act.

One Nadeem Khan also took potshots at the UP government and tweeted, “Those who have houses on the highway and they are helping migrant workers, walking on the highway with water and food, They are being harassed by sending notice”.

Fact-check

Alt News found that the notice was issued to a person named Shreebhagwan Sharma aka Guddu Pandit. He is a former MLA from Uttar Pradesh’s Debai assembly constituency. In a tweet, Bulandshahr police informed that the notice was issued against Sharma who, according to the police, has violated the lockdown rules a few times.

SSP Santosh Kumar also reiterated that the notice was issued against Guddu Pandit and that a few cases have been registered against him for violating rules and disturbing social distancing amidst the lockdown. He informed that the notice was given to Pandit by the station in-charge of Bulandshahr police for gathering people at his residence with the lure of food due to which social distancing was disturbed and lockdown rules were flouted. He then claimed that the part where his name was mentioned was removed and shared on social media. He said that sharing the notice on social without the context is an attempt to defame the police.

However, Sachin Gupta, a crime reporter based in Uttar Pradesh, pointed out that while the police claimed that Guddu Pandit’s name was removed from the notice, it was never mentioned in the first place.

Later the police also informed, “Action has been taken against the outpost in-charge because, in the notice issued [by him] to Bhagwan Sharma alias Guddu Pandit for violating lockdown rules, he didn’t mention his name. Because of this, certain people on social media misused it. Had the language of the notice been clear and the name of the person was mentioned then the attempts to tarnish the image of district police could have been avoided.”

In the video posted below, Guddu Pandit can be heard arguing with the police for mentioning in the notice that he lures people to his house by distributing food and drinks. It can be heard that Guddu Pandit refuses to accept the notice from the police.

Posted by Shribhagwan Guddu Pandit on Monday, 11 May 2020

Therefore, a notice was issued by Bulandshahr police to a former MLA for allegedly luring people to his house in the garb of helping them with food and other essentials. The police found him to be flouting lockdown rules and not maintaining the social distancing norms. Because the notice did not mention his name, it was shared by several users with the false claim that the police directed good samaritans to not help migrant workers.

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