No leave for UP field officials up to Nov-end in view of festivals

LUCKNOW: The Uttar Pradesh government on Wednesday issued an order saying officials on “field duty” will not be granted leave till November 30, attributing its decision to the festival season and security concerns ahead of the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya verdict. The instructions came on the last day of the Supreme Court hearing in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute case. The judgment in the matter is to be pronounced by November 17.

While an earlier official order stated that the decision was related to the festival season, a fresh note said the Ayodhya verdict was also a concern. Officials considered to be on field duties include civil and police officers posted at the district and lower levels. In the order, Additional Chief Secretary Mukul Singhal said the government after deliberations decided that in view of the coming festival season, no official should be granted leave, unless in the most unavoidable circumstances, till November 30.

Later, Special Secretary Home R P Singh, in a letter to the UP DGP, said that keeping in mind festivals and expected verdict of the Supreme Court on Ayodhya issue no leave, except in unavoidable situations, of officers and employees in field duty should be sanctioned till November end.

It should also be ensured that they remain present in their respective headquarters till the given date, the order said. “Ensure strict implementation of this order,” Singh added in the letter. Both the orders directed the officials to remain present at the headquarters of their respective places of posting. Singhal also said strict compliance of the order must be ensured.

Director Information, Shishir, said, “The cancellation of duties during festival season is a normal thing and there is nothing unusual in it.” Besides Diwali, other festivals falling in the second fortnight of this month include Karva Chauth, Chehallum Dhanteras, Chhoti Diwali, Diwali, Govardhan Puja and Bhaiya Dooj. Chhath (sun worship) festival, barawafat, Guru Nanak Jayanti/Kartik Purnima are slated in the first fortnight of November.

The Uttar Pradesh administration last week imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC in Ayodhya till December 10 ahead of the Supreme Court order in the politically sensitive RAyodhya land dispute case. Section 144 prohibits assembly of four or more people and empowers police to book people for rioting. Posting the order on his official Twitter account, District Magistrate Anuj Kumar Jha said, “The order has been issued considering safety and security of Ayodhya and those visiting here as Govt’s paramount concerns.”

“I must add that already there is another order in force since 31.08.2019 covering aspects of unlawful assemblies and undesirable activities. The order dated 12.10.2019 has been issued to cover a couple of points which were not there in the earlier order,” he added.

Jha told PTI that the order also restricts drones, unmanned aerial vehicle for filming and shooting inside Ayodhya. The sale and purchase of crackers will not be allowed on the occasion of Diwali without permission of the magistrate.

The administration has also demanded a large number of security forces to maintain law and order and communal harmony. The Supreme Court on Wednesday concluded hearing in the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case in Ayodhya and reserved the judgement. The bench heard for 40 days the arguments of the Hindu and the Muslim sides. PTI