Nothing could serve as a stark reminder of the deteriorating law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh than the spurt in crime, especially those against women, the latest instance being that of a 50-year-old man being shot dead in Hathras by a person accused of molesting his daughter. The district had earlier been in the news for the gang-rape and murder of a Dalit woman. The Hathras re-run has been followed by reports of crime against women from places like Aligarh and Bulandshahar. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed the police to invoke the provisions of the National Security Act (NSA) against the accused, now on the run. The CM had earlier disputed reports about the state not being safe for women, charges that were made amid attempts to pitch UP as a centre for investment and tourist destination, even as migrant workers returned home in hordes. The fight against crime has not been helped by the state police either that sought to rationalise it by saying crime figures should be seen in the context of the population.
With Assembly elections due in the state next year, the political connotation of rising crime has not been lost on the political parties, with the BJP alleging that the Hathras accused was a Samajwadi Party activist and the latter denying it. BSP supremo Mayawati has also voiced her concerns over Dalit and women’s harassment in the state. The Yogi government has been making claims of cracking down on crime to boost the state’s image but it has to first put its own troubled house in order as the involvement of a BJP leader in the Unnao case revealed. The police have also maintained that the firing on a BJP MP’s son in Lucknow was staged.
The state government has to guard against allegations of castes and communities being targeted as in the case of Vikas Dubey’s police encounter and the slugfest over UP politician Mukhtar Ansari, now lodged in a Punjab jail. The onus lies on the state government and its police to prove that their actions are fair and transparent.