On Friday, when BSP chief Mayawati referred to the Samajwadi Party regime in Uttar Pradesh as “jungleraj”, perhaps she was just scoring a political point against an arch rival. However, the fact is that her description may not be too much off the mark.
Three horrific incidents of rape in different parts of Uttar Pradesh over the last week have once again turned the spotlight on the nefarious condition of the law and order situation in the state. People have already started saying that things on this front are back to where they were under the Mulayam Singh Yadav government in 2006-2007.
In fact, this was the single most important reason for the SP’s decimation and the BSP’s triumphant ride to a clear majority in the 2007 assembly election. In the Lok Sabha election, too, it was the alleged “jungleraj” which limited the SP to five seats out of 80 in UP, that too all held only by members of the ruling Yadav family.
With an annual tally of about 2,000 rapes, close to 8,000 abductions of women and over 3,000 cases of assault on women with intent to outrage their modesty, UP carries the dubious distinction of being among the top three states on these counts. It also accounts for 5,000 murders and an equal number of attempts to murder. The over-200 riots in the past two years of the Akhilesh Yadav regime are also a record of sorts.
Consider the latest rape incident, morphed TV footage of which must have shaken people across the country: Two Dalit sisters aged 12 and 14 were gang-raped and murdered and their bodies then hanged from a tree in a village in Badaun in west UP. And the accused included policemen.
In Saraimir in east UP’s Azamgarh district, a minor was brutally gang raped and left to die with gruesome injuries. In Etawah, a rape victim’s mother was beaten up and stripped publicly by those accused of raping her daughter because she had dared to make a police complaint.
In the case of the two Dalit sisters, police refused to lodge an FIR even after the two bodies were found, most probably because the accused and the policemen involved belonged to the Yadav clan which rules the state in every sense of the word.
Interestingly, all the three places which witnessed these gruesome incidents are connected to the ruling Yadav family. Budaun is represented in the Lok Sabha by Mulayam’s nephew Dharmendra Yadav, Mulayam himself is MP from Azamgarh, and Etawah happens to be the home town of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav himself.
“What can one expect when politicians of the level of Mulayam Singh casually say ‘ladke to ladke hain’ (boys will be boys) about rapists,” says a senior BSP leader.
“The fact is that the police machinery has been totally politicised and there is no fear of the law,” says former UP DGP KL Gupta. “When wrong-doers are patronised instead of being punished, they are obviously emboldened to commit crimes at will,” he adds. “Posting of Yadav officials on key posts in the police and administration, regardless of their track record, has made things worse,” says another retired DGP.
SP leaders like Naresh Agarwal dismiss such criticism as “media hype” and “conspiracy of political opponents”. But the fact remains that the SP cadre is populated with lumpen elements who continue to play havoc with law and order throughout the state. What is worse is that relief from the spate of crimes seems a distant cry for the people of UP.