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Rapes, gang rapes, murders, molestations and a host of similar crimes against women in UP, including the horrifying Badaun case where teenage cousins were raped, strangulated and then hung by the tree, hogged the national limelight past week. Brutal and horrifying, these cases possibly were not the only cases of their kind in the week gone but ones which caught public attention. Credit must go to the vernacular media and victim’s families who exerted enough pressure for the cases to get noticed. Not a comprehensive roll of atrocities on women, these cases were merely representative of the bigger malaise characterised by total breakdown of law and order machinery in the state on one level and government sanctioned and abetted Goondaism on another.

If the refusal to register cases or registration under “lighter” sections of IPCs, like that in the Azamgarh gang rape case has become the standard operating procedure of UP Police, blatant partisanship in favour of Yadavs, Mulayam and Akhilesh’s clansmen, has emboldened the criminal and anti socials in the caste to trample upon the law brazenly. Three cases in past one week illustrate the criminal belligerence of these elements.

In Bhaisonda village of Chitrakoot, Munna Yadav beat Dalit old woman Bhoori Devi to death for daring to intervene into his molestation attempt of a minor girl from the same village in broad daylight. In another incident in Gaurapur village of Etawah, Mulayam’s native district, a woman was stripped naked and beaten to near death by Basantlal Yadav and his accomplices. They left after assuming her to be dead. Yadav and his accomplices were apparently teaching the woman a “lesson” for her refusal to withdraw a case she had filed against Basant Yadav’s son Sunny who had raped her daughter a fortnight back.

It is however the twin rape and murder of cousins in Badaun, which reveals the horrifying extent of criminal nexus between ruling Samajwadi Party and UP Police which under the SP has been reduced to a little more than Yadav Sena. Scene of crime, Katra Saadatganj, a village of around six thousand in Badaun, by the banks of Ganga had a very small Yadav population till just five years back. Erosion of river banks in nearby places made a few other Yadav families including Veere Yadav’s settle in the village. For a group so new to the village, it was a sense of “filialness” with the Policemen posted at local beat which made Veere Yadav’s sons bellicose. Local newspapers have reported that Veere’s sons and some other Yadavs had been harassing co- villagers belonging to other castes for long with unremitting patronage of fellow Yadavs posted at the Police beat.

The sequence of events in the case exposes not only the protection Veere’s three sons and other two accused received from local policemen but also the crass subversion of Police force to “Yadav” interests. When the family members of victims approached the local police beat they were beaten by two constables and sent back. On their return to the beat once again they were mocked by Constable Sarvesh Yadav, a relative to the main accused, to go and search if the girls were not hanging from some tree. The pleadings of victims’ families were neither heeded to by Station Incharge Ganga Singh (Yadav again) who was informed of the incident over phone.

The muck which runs deep in the UP Police owes it directly to the Yadavisation of Police Force by Mulayam Singh and its continuation under his son Akhilesh. Recruitments in the Police force and postings at beats and stations based on coarse caste considerations to ensure “Yadav” supremacy have debased the entire Policing in state. Police beats and stations with any amount of a substantial Yadav population coming under the purview have invariably Yadav officers manning them (Police beat Katra Saadatganj had four Yadavs out of five personnel posted there). At times the Yadav officers heading the Stations and beats have a clout which surpasses that of their senior IPS officers. In a widely reported case, a Sub Inspector – Mulayam’s distant relative- slapped a Senior Superintendent of Police in the presence of other Policemen in station itself.

To understand the gravity of the situation one has to check out the scandalous case of Ganga Singh Yadav who was and continues to be the Station Officer of Usaihat Police Station which covers the Katra Saadatganj beat. Despite allegations by victim’s family that he ignored their detailed complaint over phone, he has neither been suspended nor transferred from his post. More than half a dozen charges of criminal negligence and brazen collusion with criminals in his present term at the station have not been able to dislodge Yadav from his position. The charges involve murders of people despite having complained to him of threat to life (in two cases just a week back before murders), murder in front of Police Station and shielding an attempt to rape accused.

But it is a case in his previous term as SO Faizganj Behta which is really spine chilling. According to a news story in Dainik Jagran when Ganga Singh Yadav was incharge of Faizganj Behta, a girl along with her brother had come to Asifpur beat under this station to lodge a complaint. Not only was the girl gang raped by policemen ( who again happened to be Ganga Singh’s clansmen) at the beat but his brother was beaten to death for resisting the crime. After lot of media attention a case was registered for murder brushing aside the gang rape charge. Yadav who came under severe fire for the excesses of his personnel was let off with a mere transfer of post to his present posting in Usaihat.

I know it is fashionable to scoff at suggestions of imposition of article 356 for two reasons. First because of our collective memory of whimsical use or rather misuse by Congress Party against its opponents for years but more importantly for the proposition itself is deemed as a taboo. Ivory tower intellectualism in the comfort of distance, on ground and in thought, from Katra Saadatganj or Asifpur affords the luxury to hold forth on “constitutional tenets of a federal structure” but real people on ground with flesh and blood and honour of their womenfolk to mind dread the tyranny unleashed by ruling Party on an hourly basis. That their government is duly elected by the people is hardly an assuring feature.

There is a debate (rightly so) about Police Reforms but one has to be completely ignorant about the crooked nature of SP type politics to expect any such reforms under Mulayam and Akhilesh. Law and order in UP has completely been wrecked. If Muzaffarnagar riots which were the result of Samajwadi Party’s tribal “look no beyond the clansmen” governance model weren’t enough reason to dismiss the state government, the lawlessness- as has been witnessed in the events of past two weeks- has spread to epidemic proportions. It is not the absence of government but the insensitive and discriminatory government itself which is the problem. Nothing illustrated it better than the smirk on Akhilesh’s face when he told the lady reporter to thank her stars for being safe. If anything, it is the comfort of numbers in UP assembly which adds to the arrogance of Akhilesh Yadav who cares two hoots about criticism from media and political opponents.

Given the track record of its last two years in government and the continuing contemptuous disdain for propriety and fairness, it is virtually impossible to expect a course correction in Akhilesh’s governance. Centre should take a call without waiting to see some more Muzaffarnagar type riots and Badaun type Police atrocities to claim more victims. As for the respect for people’s mandate a complete routing of SP at electoral hustings, a fortnight back is ample moral armour.

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Vikas Saraswat

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