NEW DELHI: As electioneering picks up pace in India’s most populated and politically crucial state, Uttar Pradesh, the people are looking forward to a government which is corruption-free, preaches and practices transparency and sincere in improving law and order.
The issue has come to the centre stage after almost all top leaders of different political parties vociferously flagged and raised it on a priority basis and put incumbent Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on the defensive. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not the only one raking up the issue of the poor standard of law and order, especially when it comes to women, in his recent rallies and speeches. Other star campaigners too are highlighting the “jungle raj” under Samajwadi Party rule in the state through various platforms and mediums, including social media. Lambasting the Akhilesh Yadav-led government over the alleged failure of the law and order machinery in the state, BJP Chief Amit Shah has repeatedly reiterated his goal to save girls from eve-teasers.
Terming eve-teasers as ‘Romeos’, Shah said, “In Uttar Pradesh, every college would be provided with an anti-Romeo squad. Our girls would be safeguarded. These anti-Romeo squads would allow the girls to study without fear in college campuses”. Commenting on what he called ‘Goonda Raj in Uttar Pradesh’, Shah said 24 rapes, 13 murders, 33 kidnappings, 19 riots and 136 thefts occur daily in the state, and if other illegalities are taken into account, the total number of crimes per day in the state works out to 7,650. "UP has become the country's crime capital. The morale of criminals is so high in the state, that even police personnel don’t feel safe, let alone the common man. The way incidents of crime against the common man have risen under the Akhilesh Yadav government, an atmosphere of fear and terror prevails in the state.
The party MPs had also raised the issue in the last session of the Lok Sabha, shouting slogans like 'Akhilesh ka haath goonda-gardi ke sath' (Akhilesh is with goons). Responding to the charge, Akhilesh asked as to why leaders of the BJP always raise the issue of law and order in the state and not talk about the development works carried out by his government. “BJP people are saying that there is no law and order in Uttar Pradesh. They have no other issue to talk about, they don’t talk about development,” he said. Going on the defensive, the Samajwadi Party has promised a special alertness programme for women security and assured apt action on crimes related to women, Dalits and other minorities.
Police reforms have dominated the agenda in Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's speeches in his election rallies, where he has been trying to defend his government's track record as far as law and order in Uttar Pradesh is concerned. "We have introduced the best police practices in the state, including Dial 100 and will continue doing that once we are re-elected," said Akhilesh in one of his rallies. Akhilesh Yadav has also tried to counter the BJP by claiming that law and order was poorer in BJP-ruled states. "Data and surveys by agencies are proof that crime, law and order are much bigger issues in BJP-ruled states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan," he added.
In 2016, the state government itself informed the Uttar Pradesh Assembly that 1,012 cases of rapes and 4,520 cases of women harassment besides 1,386 of loot and 86 cases of dacoity were reported from March 15 to August 18. Responding very late to the situation, a few months ago, Akhilesh Yadav directed state police officials to adopt "zero tolerance" on law and order related issues to avoid any "communal incident" in the state, and said, "There are two basic problems at the police station level, first that cases are not lodged and second is the bad behaviour of the police. A marked difference is being seen in this area with the launch of Dial-100 scheme”.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, has mocked the 'Dial 100' scheme of the UP government, meant to offer prompt response to any distress call to the police helpline, saying it only highlights the worsening crime graph and that the Rs. 2,000 crore spent on it could have been used for boosting police infrastructure.
The BJP has promised to have the FIR registered against the accused within 24 hours without any discrimination on the basis of caste or creed and special women police task force to monitor the feminine gender’s safety besides setting up 100 fast track courts to take care of their woes. The BJP has also been citing the issue of migration of families (346) from Kairana in Uttar Pradesh due to threats pertaining to "increase in crime" and "deterioration" of law-and-order situation there.
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati has also raised the issue of the crime rate in her campaigns and categorically stated that “In Uttar Pradesh, law and order has collapsed totally. If the BSP comes to power, there will be complete law and order and all the goons will be jailed.” Addressing a rally in Moradabad recently, BSP Supremo Mayawati had also attacked the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government and said, that if Centre is not able to handle law and order in the capital then how will the BJP be able to manage it in Uttar Pradesh. ”Jab kendra sarkar Delhi ki qaanoon vwayastha nahi sambhal pa rahi hai to UP ka kaise sambhal paayegi,” she said. Reality Check!! As per the data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2015, the crimes against women increased by 34 percent over the last four years in the entire country. As per the data, Uttar Pradesh with 35,527 cases reported most crimes against women in 2015.
According to the NCRB’s 2014 report, while India recorded an increase of 65 percent rape cases from 2010 to 2014, Uttar Pradesh recorded an increase of 121 percent from 2010 (1,563) to 2014 (3,467). On the same note, as per the statistics of the Uttar Pradesh State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB), rape cases in the state spiked thrice between 2014 and 2015. The NCRB’s crime data of 2015 also brings to our notice that Uttar Pradesh’s overall crime rate is 1,293, which is more than 10 times of its IPC rate. The data show that while a majority of states registered more crimes under the IPC, Uttar Pradesh relied more on special and local laws (SLL) such as the Arms Act, Goonda Act and Motor Vehicles Act. As against 2.41 lakh IPC cases, the state registered 25.49 lakh SLL cases in 2015. However, the Uttar Pradesh Police have in its defence said that the high number of SLL crimes was due to inclusion of traffic violations in the crime data and the large number of Goonda Act cases.
Reportedly, there were over 30,000 cases of atrocities against Dalits registered between 2008 and May 2011, and 30 percent cases of Dalit killings in the country were reported from the state during her tenure. However, the sole question that arises in the wake of the increasing incidents of crime is whether the electoral promises made by the leaders of various political parties will in true sense be fulfilled or remain a mere poll gimmick as almost all political parties have fielded several candidates with criminal record. A recent report by Delhi-based ADR said that out of 813 candidates analyzed, 110 (14 percent) have declared criminal cases against them. It added that 82 candidates have declared serious criminal offences, including cases related to murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, crimes against women etc. The report further says that among party wise candidates with criminal cases, 21 from BJP, 21 from BSP, 5 from RLD, 13 from SP, 5 from Indian National Congress and 13 independent candidates have declared criminal cases against them in their affidavits. Leaving the history behind and eyeing a better future, voting is on in Uttar Pradesh for the remaining five phases giving another chance to the voters to elect a government of their own choice,