Bulandshahr gangrape: what does it say about crime & the SP govt in UP?
Every major political party in Uttar Pradesh has its share of links with criminal elements, and the Samajwadi Party is particularly notorious for it. And with the UP Assembly elections around the corner, virtually every political debate in the state eventually boils down to the law-and-order situation and crime control.
The recent gangrape incident on National Highway 91 near Bulandshahr has reignited this debate.
A family was travelling from Noida to Shahjahanpur at about 1 am in a private vehicle. A group of five or six people stopped the vehicle and held all the men hostage at gun point. A woman and a minor girl were then raped by the assailants as the hostages watched helplessly. The savagery continued for over two-and-a-half hours near the highway.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav took note of the incident and suspended all five police personnel associated with the initial probe. The axed officers included Bulandshahr SSP Vaibhav Krishna. The CM also instructed the state's principal secretary, home secretary and DGP to directly monitor the investigation.
Terming the incident 'shameful', UP DGP S Javeed Ahmed assured that the culprits would be arrested within a day or two under all circumstances.
Whenever questions are raised about the deteriorating law-and-order situation in the state, the government as well as the Samajwadi Party respond by enumerating their achievements.
They gloat over the launch of the 1090 helpline service to curb crimes against women, the modernisation of police control rooms and initiatives like 'Dial 100'.
However, the real problem lies in the police machinery of the state. The politicisation runs so deep in the police department that it is no longer capable of taking independent decisions.
But what is the real law-and-order situation in UP?
Back into the abyss
At the beginning of this government's term, in 2012, the Chief Minister took pains to present his administration as a break from the past. But, the priorities of the government changed as time passed, and the state gradually slipped back into the abyss of lawlessness.
It is worth mentioning that the state government resisted this trend during the initial period. Posters were pasted outside the CM office in Shastri Bhawan in Lucknow, asking people to desist from approaching for transfers.
But local SP leaders had towering ambitions, and the transfers, promotions and appointments of police personnel became a business once again.
Transfers also became a weapon to punish any police officer daring to take action against members of the ruling party.
The caste factor also superseded administrative reasons in the transfers of senior officers.
The result was a sharp rise in the crime graph.
The Chief Minister was hailed for scuttling the entry of the muscleman leader DP Yadav into his party just before the formation of the government.
Then, the SP was set to welcome notorious history-sheeter Mukhtar Ansari and his brother Afzal's Quami Ekta Dal into its fold - a move that was reversed upon Akhilesh's insistence. So it's not as though he hasn't tried to change the SP's image as a criminal-friendly party.
Both the BJP and the BSP are up in arms against the government over the rising number of crimes in the state. Mayawati is trying to turn it into an election issue, while keeping her focus on attacking the BJP.
This makes it seem like grandstanding on the issue - ordinary people are not convinced that she's taking the matter seriously either.
Modernisation a distant dream
The police force in UP is as deeply divided on the basis of caste, religion and region as the state's polity. The government, which boasts about youthful thinking and young leadership, and makes tall claims of having transformed the state, also needs to overhaul the police machinery.
Most of the CM's plans for the modernisation of the police have proved to be non-starters. The CCTV cameras installed at all public places have become non-functional. Cops at most police stations are reluctant to register FIRs. It is often the complainants who face harassment at the hands of the police.
All efforts at modernisation would remain a sham until this attitude is changed.
Translated by Deepak Sharma, edited by Shreyas Sharma
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