City walls stand defaced during Delhi University elections
It's that time of the year again when the capital's wall and street furniture are defaced with posters of contestants in the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) elections, when most of the city has nothing whatsoever to do with it.
On paper, the law forbids this but in the absence of action against the culprits, Delhi's denizens can only despair at the helplessness of the law against politically-backed elements.
No vacant space is sought to be spared by the civic vandals - subway walls, overbridges, lampposts - and the scars and the disfigurement remain for months, almost till the next election.
The Delhi Prevention of Defacement Property Act 2007 lays down that whoever defaces any property in public by writing or marking with ink, chalk, paint or any other material, shall be punishable with up to six months' imprisonment or a fine of up to Rs.1,000 or both.
Try telling this to the candidates.
"The university cannot do much about this. We have already had a meeting with the police official and have asked them to book students who are caught defacing the walls," DU chief election officer D.S. Rawat told IANS.
The posters have the images, names and ballot numbers of candidates of the National Student'sUnion of India (NSUI) - the youth wing of the Congress and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) - the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Admitting it is difficult for the university to control such defacement, Rawat said: "Though the varsity does not recognise any political parties, we will write to them to check and stop further defacement."
Under the university rules, candidates can only past posters on "Walls of Democracy" and specific areas allotted by the colleges.
With the onus now on the police to take action, one officer said vigilance had been increased.
"We keep a regular check and will not let offenders escape," a police officer at the Lajpat Nagar police station in south Delhi told IANS.
However, Colonel Shivraj Kumar (retd) of the "Poster Hatao Campaign" (Remove Poster Campaign), who has been working since 2009 to rid the city of the menace, said that as money easily flows from big political parties, police avoids getting "involved".
"These student unions have huge political backing and have a different psyche, so the police does not get involved with them," Col. Shivraj Kumar told IANS.
"Hence it becomes difficult to deep a check on them," he added.
Does he feel it is important to create awareness among students? "We are very active on Facebook so that we can make the youth more conscious," Col. Shivraj Kumar added.
While the candidates say they are aware of the rules, they argue that it is the only way to reach the students of 50 colleges affiliated to DUSU.
"I agree this is a wrong thing and whoever is caught doing this should be punished and strict action taken against them," ABVP secretary Rohit Chahal told IANS. The elections are on Sep 12.
(Shradha Chettri can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 31-08-2014)