Police constable on UP election duty suspended for venting anger in Whatsapp video

Saurabh Sharma February 16, 2017 4 min

Story Highlights

  • Afzal Khan posted a video blasting the police for reducing the lunch allowance for policemen on election duty in Uttar Pradesh from Rs 1,500 to Rs 150
  • The video went viral within minutes all over the state, after which Khan's superiors in Lakhimpur-Kheri suspended him
  • Lakhimpur-Kheri superintendent of police Manoj Jha said Khan was receiving lunch allowance according to his rank

A police constable on election duty in Uttar Pradesh was suspended on Wednesday for taking to social media to air a grievance and criticise the police department.

The police were particularly incensed with constable Afzal Khan for “instigating” other policemen to join him in his social media blitz against the department.

Afzal Khan, stationed at the Lakhimpur-Kheri in Uttar Pradesh, posted a video on Whatsapp blasting the police department for drastically cutting down the lunch allowance given to policemen on election duty  

Khan, stationed at the Lakhimpur-Kheri police lines, posted a video on Whatsapp blasting the department for drastically cutting down the lunch allowance given to policemen on election duty in the state.

In his video, he says that the Election Commission (EC) had earmarked an allowance of Rs 1,500 per day for each constable on election duty, but that they were getting only Rs 150. Asking the EC to investigate the discrepancy, Khan urged fellow constables to share the video with as many people as possible.

His wish was granted in as much as the video went viral all over the state within minutes. It then caught the attention of his superiors in Lakhimpur-Kheri, who promptly swung into action and suspended him.

“Afzal Khan was suspended for posting and sharing the video on social media to incite fellow constables. We are not yet sure of his intentions, but this could have created an uneasy situation for the police,” said Manoj Jha, superintendent of police at Lakhimpur-Kheri.

The video went viral all over the state within minutes. It then caught the attention of Khan’s superiors in Lakhimpur-Kheri, who promptly swung into action and suspended him  

Jha said there are different allowance criteria for policemen placed on poll duty, depending on his/her rank. Khan was receiving a lunch allowance according to his rank, he added.

“His allegations are baseless. He was presenting wrong facts. He said Rs 150 is not enough to get a good lunch,” said Jha.
“The fact is that in a district like Lakhimpur Kheri, Rs 150 is more than enough to buy a decent lunch. Every constable on poll duty is getting the same amount,” he added.

Jha charged Khan with casting aspersions on the EC in the video.

Lakhimpur-Kheri SP Manoj Jha said  Khan was receiving lunch allowance according to his rank  

According to the EC’s notification, the rate of honorarium for police personnel on election duty ranges from a minimum of Rs 2,500 for officer, Rs 2,000 for subordinate officers and Rs 1,500 for other ranks. This is for election duty of 15 days or less.

Khan is the latest of the men in uniform to take to social media to voice a grievance, and with dire consequences. On January 9 this year, a video posted on Facebook by Border Security Force (BSF) jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav complaining about the “bad food” served to the jawans drew the ire of the Indian ministry of home affairs.

In another such incident, a police officer was suspended in Alappuzha district of Kerala for criticising chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan in a Facebook post.

It appears that Khan was inspired by these examples.

“He was suspended because the election in Uttar Pradesh is still underway,” said Debashish Panda, principal secretary, home department, Uttar Pradesh.

Recently, the government had tried to gag babus from airing their grievances on social media. It also sought to review service conduct rules to curb the use of social media among government employees.

“He was suspended because the election in Uttar Pradesh is still underway” — Debashish Panda, principal secretary, home department, Uttar Pradesh  

A committee formed under the ministry of personnel, public grievances and pensions proposed certain amendments to the All India Service Conduct rules, 1968, which says “no member of the service shall make any such statement on television, social media or any other communication application, a fact or opinion which has the effect of an adverse criticism of any police or action of the Central Government or the State government…”

On December 8, 2014, a notification issued by the ministry of telecommunications and IT “advised” that while government employees were free to post their views/responses on social media in their personal capacity, they should refrain from representing the official view unless authorised to do so.

“Since there is no association in police, Khan should have made his complaint through the proper channel. Senior officers would have solved his problem. The allegations made by him are false,” said Panda.

Khan was unavailable for comment. He did not answer calls made to him. Later, he switched off his mobile.

Saurabh Sharma is a Lucknow based independent journalist and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters. He tweets from @saurabhsherry.

Lead visual: Nikhil Raj