New Delhi: Despite strict laws against defacement of public places, aspiring student leaders, backed by major political parties, are openly flouting them and have pasted posters in subways, on flyovers, overbridges and walls across the capital in a run-up to the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) election.
The students union election is scheduled for September 13 and the final list of candidates would be out on September 06.
But organisations such as the National Students Union of India (NSUI) and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) have not waited for the final list of candidates to build the momentum for the electoral battle. The two arch rivals have been busy for over a month in wooing fresh students through posters carrying welcome messages and names of prospective candidates.
As per the guidelines of the Lyngdoh Committee on student elections, candidates cannot deface and disfigure public property with posters. The students can use hand-painted posters for campaign.
Hundreds of posters have been pasted on college walls, lamp posts, subway and flyover walls, not just in and around the north and south campus, but prominent intersections on the two Ring Roads.
Colonel Shivraj, the founder of the voluntary Poster Hatao campaign, told a news agency: "If youngsters are not conscious of the fact that they are defacing public property by sticking posters that make the city look ugly, it is a sad commentary on our civic consciousness."
Volunteers of the Poster Hatao campaign, a citizen centric drive, have now complained to the municipal corporations and Delhi Police.
"It is sad that youngsters are taking the lead in flouting the law. As soon as we remove posters from any site, new posters and hoardings come up," Shivraj complained.
Election codes clearly state that if there is any violation of rules, the person concerned is liable for disqualification and punishment.
University officials said they were helpless. They said only police officials could take action against the offender under the Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 2007, which prescribes a maximum imprisonment of one year and a fine of up to Rs 50,000 for putting up illegal hoardings and posters.
Sindhu Pillai, deputy commissioner of police, north, said: "We have stepped up the vigil near north campus to see that student organisations do not violate any rules."
"Last week, we caught three persons who were involved in pasting posters. As the DUSU elections are approaching, we have beefed up security on the campus," said Pillai.
Student organisations said that unless they were allotted legal areas for putting up posters, they would continue to use public spaces, defying law.
"No one wants to run a poster campaign, but we are forced to do so. The colleges are spread across the city, if we want to reach out to students the only way is through posters," said NSUI president Rohit Chaudhary.
"The university should provide us specific areas in each college to put up posters," he said.
He also added that the students union cannot rely only on online social networking site like Twitter and Facebook posters; a "poster campaign is a must".
While the NSUI is the student wing of the Congress party, the ABVP is the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.