Lucknow: Some media reports this weekend suggested that a new order from the Uttar Pradesh transport department calls for vehicles to be seized if they carry caste stickers — stickers identifying the owners’ castes — on the body or registration plates.
However, speaking to ThePrint, officials in the Uttar Pradesh government denied the reports. They said carrying caste stickers on vehicles is already illegal, but the offence warrants a fine and not seizure of vehicles.
According to the aforementioned media reports, the order followed a letter written by a Maharashtra-based teacher to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), where he described caste statements on vehicles as a threat to the social fabric. The letter talked of a “trend in Uttar Pradesh and other states too” where “near about everyone” is using caste names on registration plates and vehicles to “glorify their identities”.
The PMO forwarded the grievance to the Uttar Pradesh government, the reports claim, adding that a seizure order was subsequently issued.
On social media, the claim is being shared alongside a letter from a UP transport department official.
Vehicles in UP will be seized if it has caste name like Thakur, Brahman etc written on it. PMO has directed State Govt to act on it.
— Anil Tiwari (@Interceptors) December 27, 2020
Dated 24 December, the letter provides a brief account of teacher Harshpal Prabhu’s grievance and his suggestion that such vehicles be seized without any further notice. It then directs all regional transport offices (RTOs) to “niyamanusar (in keeping with rules)” take action in the matter.
‘An old rule’
Speaking to ThePrint, Uttar Pradesh Additional Chief Secretary (Information) Navneet Sehgal said “such posts are going around but there is no drive as such going on in the state”.
“Even I talked to transport department officials, no new order has been released regarding this,” he added.
UP Transport Commissioner Dheeraj Sahu said displaying caste stickers “is already not allowed”. “If someone does this, he or she will have to pay fine,” he added.
Talking about the viral letter, he added, “We got a written complaint about it a few weeks ago from an individual, so one of our officials replied that action will be taken according to rules. Some people are writing on social media that we are running a new drive or something like that. That is not true. It’s an old rule.”
Ramfer Dwivedi, the Regional Transport Officer for Lucknow district, said: “People display status by putting caste and sub-caste name tags on their SUVs, cars, motorcycles and other vehicles, but this is not allowed. No one should write anything else on the number plate.”
He said the department’s enforcement teams found “many vehicles carrying such stickers in the district”. “We have a rule of imposing fines,” he added.