Even as the Akhilesh Yadav government makes tall claims of Uttar Pradesh being a state where law and order is intact and criminals are inside jails, the statistics rather cut a sorry picture for the Samajwadi Party (SP).
While the records released by the home department as a year-ender show that criminals have a field day, what is even more shocking is that even the SP functionaries are not safe!
In the last one year alone, SP workers, senior leaders and their families have been shot in public or have been killed in cold blood, the statistics show. The latest is the murder in broad daylight of youth wing leader Arvind Yadav, who was peppered with bullets in Barabanki, on the outskirts of the state capital, on Wednesday. While Yadav had criminal cases pending against him, what stunned the police was the brutality and brazenness with which the leader was shot.
Police confirm that he was chased in a busy thoroughfare, was shot thrice and his killers stayed in full public view to confirm whether he had died or not. Only then did they walk away.
A former SP legislator was similarly shot in cold blood in Azamgarh last year while party leader Yashvir Singh was shot dead in Ghaziabad last February. A similar fate awaited party leaders Miraz-ul-Haq in Gorakhpur, Dharmendra Singh in Bareilly, Chaman Lal Bhati in Noida and Badri Yadav in Mau last year, and Bhola Singh in Auraiyya on January 6.
Many policemen have been killed or lynched by mobs and their service weapons snatched, while doctors and others have been beaten black n' blue. Senior police officers, while refusing to come on record on the crime spiral, however point out that much of the "ills plaguing the police system was due to political interference. What do you do when you are trying to set things straight and a petty ruling party leader calls up someone higher up and either you get a scolding or you are transferred," lamented a senior officer till recently posted in Agra.
Another senior police officer, posted in Kanpur and subsequently shunted out, pointed out that SP "hoodlums" were a big pain and unless strict measures are taken by the party, "nothing is going to change".
Officials cite the examples of the recent violent attacks on toll plaza staff in Faizabad and Auriayya by SP office- bearers. Forget any tangible action against errant party workers, senior minister Gayatri Prajapati even went on to defend the attackers, saying: "Do chaar thappad maar diye to kya ho gaya (Where is the problem if they just slapped them a few times)".
What now seems to be fast turning into a phenomenon is that with the police not reacting, some elements are taking law into their own hands and "getting even" with SP functionaries. Political competitiveness and ambitions are adding fuel to the fire. "It is a complete jungleraaj. What can you expect from this government when their own leaders and workers are not safe in the Akhilesh Yadav government?" asked Swamy Prasad Maurya, Leader of the Opposition in the Vidhan Sabha and senior Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader.
Alleging that the state government was run at the behest of mafias and criminals were having a free run, he says that the people in the state were now living in a "perpetual state of fear".
Former Chief Minister Mayawati, citing the soaring crime graph, had only recently demanded imposition of President's rule in Uttar Pradesh.
Prisons Minister and SP spokesman Rajendra Chowdhary rebutted the charges, saying that the Akhilesh Yadav government was much better than others and since development work was being taken up seriously, the opposition parties felt threatened enough to level baseless charges.
In the past one week alone, communal clashes erupted in two places, an elderly woman was critically wounded in the state capital, policemen beat up women protesters and a girl was burnt alive in Allahabad and dumped on the road, to name a few crimes.
Mukul Goyal, additional director general of police (Law and Order), rejected allegations of political pressure on the state police and said the force was free to act against criminals and goons, however mighty and well-connected they may be. Why then is the crime graph shooting through the roof and even the high n' mighty not spared by criminals?