Lucknow, May 22 Two months is not a long time in politics to fall from grace, especially when a landslide of public support has propelled you to power.
But in Uttar Pradesh, the honeymoon period of the Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government seems to have been spiked by a series of incidents of heinous crimes and law and order issues. Serious crime figures have seen a sharp increase — in many cases going up manifold.
Having come to power in March with a three-fourths majority, riding on anti-incumbency and promising a turn around in the law and order situation, which the BJP said had collapsed during the Samajwadi Party (SP) regime, the situation in less than two months has turned against the ruling party.
From murders to rapes to dacoities to caste conflicts and communal tensions, the government seems to be tottering in face of soaring crime and shaken public confidence.
The situation has come to such a pass that the Allahabad High Court (HC) last Saturday expressed concern over the crime situation in the state.
While disposing of a petition, a bench of Chief Justice D.B. Bhonsle and Justice Yashwant Verma directed the Principal Secretary (Home) and the Director General of Police to rein in the criminal and mafia elements.
The twin murder of bullion traders in Mathura earlier this week seems to have set the alarm bells ringing in the ruling establishment, so much so that within 24-hours of the incident, 67 IPS officials were transferred across the state, apparently in a desperate bid to control the fast-slipping law and order situation.
“Yes, indeed the soaring crimes are our first and foremost challenge but we are doing enough to rein in the criminals and restore law and order in the state” said a senior cabinet minister while admitting that the confidence of the people in Adityanath’s government “for now stood shaken”. Statistics on the ground reveal that the minister’s “enough” claim is apparently not enough.
Data released by the state police paints a rather grim picture. Between March 15 and April 15 this year, rapes increased four times over the past year, murders doubled and dacoities grew manifold. In 2016, in this corresponding period, there were 41 rapes against 179 this year and dacoities rose from three to 20.
Murders have gone up from 101 to a worrying 240 and robberies from 67 to 273. It’s not only the statistics. The perception of the people on crumbling law and order should worry the ruling elite.
Soon after Adityanath was sworn in, a husband-wife duo was killed and their young daughters raped and murdered in Allahabad; four people were murdered in Chitrakoot thereafter, a teenage trader was killed after this. In Lucknow, two sisters were murdered in broad daylight in their Lucknow home and a trader was shot dead in Gorakhpur, Adityanath’s parliamentary constituency.
Ashok Singh, the spokesman of the Uttar Pradesh Congress, says all that the state government was doing was preaching and the Chief Minister was busy doling out assurances. “In the past two months, the state is in throes of despair and the people have realised that the BJP government has failed to maintain law and order,” he said.
Samajwadi Party spokesman Rajendra Chowdhary was equally uncharitable. “The BJP tricked the people into believing in the dreams spun by them and now the poor people are facing the consequences as the criminals run amok and the powers that be are busy with ‘bhashanbaazi’ (sermonising)” he said.
Ram Achal Rajbhar, state president of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), accused the Adityanath government of triggering caste conflicts and communal tension and then going into “silent mode” for political considerations.
Opposition parties cite the caste conflict in Saharanpur and half-a-dozen other places which has singed the state in the past 60 days. Not surprisingly, as the opposition gunned for the state government, the ‘ready-to-shoot’ BJP spokesmen and leaders, who would slam the predecessor Akhilesh Yadav government previously over the smallest of incidents are now silent and duck questions on law and order.
Having effected more than 200 transfers of IPS officials in the past two months, the state government seemingly is yet to get the hang of the challenges that lie ahead. K.L. Gupta, a retired DGP, who served under Kalyan Singh, calls for more proactive policing and says police needed to be given more free hand with political interference minimised.
Put on the mat by a handful, but vocal, opposition parties in the assembly, Adityanath assured the House that his government was committed to “bringing the rule of law in the state” and that his government would treat criminals as criminals and political patronage of such unscrupulous elements would not be allowed.
However, most eyes are now on the 45-year-old monk-turned-Chief Minister of India’s most populous and politically significant state. The example of his predecessor Akhilesh Yadav is still fresh in the minds of those who elected his party to power. The lessons of history, political observers opine, can only be forgotten at one’s own peril.