By: Vivek J
February 16 2023
The state police imposed a curfew under section 144 in various districts citing festivities, and not exclusively for valentines' day.
Ahead of Valentine’s Day, several users on social media claimed that the Uttar Pradesh police has announced a curfew under Section 144, prohibiting gatherings of four or more people, of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). One such post on Facebook read, "On Valentine's Day, Uttar Pradesh authorities impose Section-144. There will be no public gatherings and no alcohol drinking.” However, this is misleading.
A tweet from the official handle of the Gautam Buddh Nagar police in Uttar Pradesh, dated February 4, 2023, announced that in view of the upcoming festivities and COVID-19 restrictions, prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC would be in place in the district from February 4 to February 28, 2023. The post also contained the document of the full directive issued by the Deputy Commissioner of Police Anil Kumar Yadav.
The directive noted that there are multiple festivals in the month of February 2023 — Sant Ravidas Jayanti and Muhammad Hazrat Ali's birthday on the fifth, Valentine's Day on the fourteenth and Mahashivaratri on the eighteenth — and that the possibility of anti-social elements disturbing peace could not be ruled out. This shows that the curfew in place was not meant exclusively for Valentines’ day, but for all the festivities during the period.
Previously, there was a similar order in place in the Gautam Buddh Nagar district in December 2022, and another one that ended on January 31, 2023. The latest directive is the extension of the previous prohibitory orders citing festivities and COVID-19 restrictions.
We also came across articles that in other districts like Lucknow, on February 10, 2023, an order was issued by the Lucknow Police stating that restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPC would be in place from February 10 to March 10, 2023. Once again, this new order cited festivities, exams, and COVID-19 restrictions issued by the government.
Similar to Gautam Buddh Nagar, restrictions were in place in Lucknow from December 2022, and the police had imposed a curfew till January 10, 2023. This was then extended to February 10, before the latest directive was issued by the Lucknow Police.
We did not come across any directives issued by the Uttar Pradesh government or the police imposing restrictions specifically to curb Valentine’s Day celebrations. As February 14 falls within the timeframe of the latest directives by the police in various districts in Uttar Pradesh, the restrictions would apply even on Valentine’s Day. Social media users have misrepresented the directives to make it look like the restrictions were exclusively announced for Valentine’s day.
District police administrations in Uttar Pradesh have been implementing COVID-19 protocols since December 2022, and in some places like Lucknow, it is to continue until March 10, 2023. As Valentine’s Day fell within the days the restrictions apply, some social media users tried to imply that a curfew under Section 144 of the CrPC was announced specifically for February 14, 2023. Therefore, we have marked this claim as misleading.