When Samajwadi Party bounced back to power under the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav in 2012, the state’s law and order situation began to look wobbly. But considering that law and order was never regarded as a USP of any SP regime, the rising crime graph was taken in their stride by most people at the time.
Akhilesh remained under fire from different quarters and eventually lost the political battle to BJP from which the least that one expected was improvement in the law and order situation. However, far from any improvement, the situation under chief minister Yogi Adityanath can best be described as worse than when Akhilesh Yadav was in power.
While both Akhilesh Yadav and Adityanath were equally inexperienced as far as governance was concerned, expectations on law and order were surely higher from the BJP regime, that made much of the alleged ‘jungle raj’ in UP in the 2017 state election.
However, as time went by, what became increasingly evident is that the saffron-clad chief minister is in complete denial mode and refuses to accept any adverse reports from the ground. Akhilesh was concerned, at least there was someone like his father Mulayam Singh Yadav to chastise or reprimand him for the lapses and failures on various governance issues, including law and order. Yogi Adityanath, on the other hand, remains the privileged ‘mathadheesh’ (head of a monastery), who is so used to having everyone bow down before him that he alone has the last word.
The clever bureaucracy obviously chooses to serve him what he loves to have on his plate. “When a head of any religious order says that everything is fine, he not only wants everyone to believe that, but also starts believing himself in all his claims, no matter however tall, are the gospel truth, which no living being has the right to question; and that is precisely what Yogi Adityanath ji has been doing,” observed a senior bureaucrat who has interacted closely with Yogi Adityanath.
Be it the violence unleashed by BJP leaders in Saharanpur, or the death of scores of children in the Gorakhpur medical college due to shortage of oxygen supply, or the alleged gangrape of an innocent girl by the local BJP MP in Unnao, followed by her father’s gruesome murder, the unprovoked and sensational cold-blooded killing of an Apple executive by a police constable in Lucknow’s posh Gomti Nagar, or the more recent broad-daylight killing of a police inspector in Bulandshahr, the chief minister had his priorities all mixed up.
Even after his blue-eyed Gorakhpur district magistrate Rajiv Singh Rautela clearly admitted that shortage of oxygen had led to death of 67 children in the medical college there, the chief minister went about denying it. In fact, he went to the extent of hanging all doctors and other officials (except the DM) who dared to talk about “shortage of oxygen.” Yet ironically, the oxygen supplier was sent to jail.
In the gangrape incident too, he turned a deaf ear to repeated pleas of the victim who went unheard until she attempted to immolate herself in front of the CM’s residence. Even after the main accused Kuldeep Singh Sengar, who was the ruling BJP MLA from Unnao, allegedly got the girl’s father beaten to death in full public view, he was allowed to have a field day. It was only after word was sent from the PMO that the Yogi government took note of the gruesome crime and eventually CBI swung into action to put him in the dock.
The clever bureaucracy obviously chooses to serve Yogi what he loves to have on his plate
Even in case of killing of the Apple executive, it took Yogi Adityanath the whole day to initiate action against the defiant and trigger-happy cop. However, to top it all, comes the Bulandshahr incident, in which the key accused named in the original FIR continues to go scot-free even as three weeks have passed. The reason is not far to seek. The culprit Yogesh Raj, who was seen having a heated altercation with the slain police inspector Subodh Kumar Singh just before he was hacked and shot to death, happens to be a Bajrang Dal activist enjoying patronage of those who matter. Raj went about posting videos on the social media, proclaiming his innocence but Yogi Adityanath’s police remained blissfully ignorant of his location.
Interestingly, all police officials responsible for booking Yogesh Raj for inciting violence and the inspector’s murder, were shunted out of Bulandshahr. Congress spokesman Akhilesh Pratap Singh alleges, “The main culprit is being openly shielded by the government and there is a design to pass the blame on to someone else.”
Fact remains that the Bulandshahr police has left no stone unturned in finding a new “key accused” every few days since December 3, when the incident took place. Soon after top ruling party leaders expressed their displeasure over the naming of Yogesh Raj in the FIR, the official focus was shifted to an army soldier Jeetendra Malik, who was tracked down to his regiment in Jammu and booked for the murder before being sent to jail. However, no concrete evidence could be established against him.
Barely 10 days later, the new SSP, Prabhakar Chaudhary, changed tack and claimed that the bullet had actually been fired by Prashant Natt, who has now been booked and arrested. The police officer has further claimed that it was another bullet fired by Natt that killed Sumit, who was among the rabble-rousers. Meanwhile, the police arrested yet another “culprit,” identified as Kalua.
No one knows where this hunt for the “real culprit” will end. Meanwhile, what the police was also busy trying to do was to pin down someone for the alleged cow-slaughter, that, Yogi Adityanath strongly believes, provoked the violence and led to the killing of the police inspector. That the alleged “cow-slaughter” was more important for the chief minister than the killing of his own police officer shows where his priorities lie.
Far from emerging as a game-changer that would provide good governance to the 22 crore people of the country’s most populous state, Yogi Adityanath has ended up becoming only a name-changer – focusing largely on re-christening a couple of towns which he felt , had Islamic names – eg. Mughal Serai to Deen Dayal Upadhaya Nagar, Allahabad to Prayagraj and Faizabad to Ayodhya. All this have left people in the state wondering who they should opt for between the devil and the deep sea.