Uttar Pradesh’s Director General of Police Mukul Goel has been removed from his post for disregarding government work and not taking interest in departmental duties. Quite obviously not everything has been alright with the UP Police department.
On 1 May police raided the house of Kanhaiya Yadav in Manrajpur village of Chandauli district and when they left the house a 22 years old girl Nisha was found hanging from a ceiling fan. The younger sister Gunja described how brutally both girls were beaten by the police even though she kept pleading that she had an examination coming up. Kanhaiya Yadav has accused the police of demanding a bribe for a legitimate mining lease which he had refused to pay. When a 13 years old Dalit girl went to Pali police station of Lalitpur district to lodge a complaint against her gang rape by four men she was allegedly raped on 27 April by the Station House Officer inside his residence on the police station campus. SHO has been arrested by Prayagraj and the entire staff of 29 police personnel at the police station has been removed. In Lalitpur again at Mahrauni police station on 2 May, a domestic help was tortured after being stripped by two police personnel including a male on charges of theft. Three police personnel including SHO have been suspended. On 7 May in Imliya village of Firozabad district when police arrived at the house of Fauran Singh Jatav with an upper-caste man Kailashchandra Upadhyay in the matter of a dispute between two families, the atrocity committed by aggressors caused the death of the wife of the Dalit man, Sharda Devi. A woman and her minor daughter were called at Nawabganj police station in Kanpur on 8 May at 4 pm for questioning. The daughter was accused of theft by a family with whom she stayed as domestic help. It was late night by the time interrogation ended. The mother-daughter duo were sent to stay at Asha Jyoti Kendra, a government-run centre for women facing violence. The mother was found hanging in the bathroom at this centre the next morning.
The police have gained notoriety during the Chief Minister Yogi Adiyanath’s government which ironically runs a high profile publicity campaign for good law and order in UP. During the last term of Yogi’s rule Vivek Tiwari, an Apple executive was shot dead in the posh Gomti Nagar locality by police for allegedly refusing to stop his vehicle in 2018. In 2021 Faisal Hussin, an 18 years old vegetable vendor died after being beaten by police at Bangermau police station in Unnao district for allegedly violating lockdown rules. In 2021 again, a Kanpur businessman Manoj Gupta was killed in a hotel in Gorakhpur after a police raid there. Also in 2021 a young man Altaf was found hanging from a pipe two feet above the floor in a bathroom inside Sadar Kotwali police station in Kasganj after interrogation in a matter of eloping with a girl.
Police are known to be rough with people and routinely use torture as a technique for the extraction of information or confession of the crime. However, under Yogi’s rule, their conduct gives an impression of lawlessness. A reason for the re-election of the Yogi government in the 2022 Assembly elections is that police feared that Samajwadi Party rule will entail interference of their workers in day to day affairs whereas in BJP rule they have more freedom, which they seem to be abusing at their sweet will.
Yogi Adityanath cannot distinguish between the roles of the legislature, executive and judiciary. He followed ‘thok do’ (kill in cold blood) policy with criminals and enjoyed using bulldozers to demolish properties of mere accused, so much so that bulldozers have become a symbol of his governance style which other BJP governments are also now relishing copying. Earlier his government was trying to extract recovery as part of the U.P. Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Ordinance, 2020 even before the guilt of the accused was proved in a court of law. Supreme Court intervened to stop this but the government has again issued illegal notices for recovery.
In a recent judgement giving bail to Jignesh Mevani, the independent MLA from Gujarat, Assam judge Aparesh Chakraborty has expressed concern at cops turning Assam into a police state. He said, ‘Converting our hard-earned democracy into a police state is simply unthinkable and if the Assam police are thinking about the same, the same is perverse thinking.’ Since Himanta Biswa Sarma became CM in May last year 28 encounter deaths have taken place in Assam. In Yogi Adityanath’s last term of five years over 125 people were killed in encounters. Yogi has already converted UP into a police state and now there is a competition among different BJP governments to outdo each other. For example, two cattle smugglers Akbar and Salman Banjara were arrested in Meerut, handed over to Assam Police and shot dead in an encounter in a Kokrajhar national park where they were taken for investigation.
It is noteworthy that Yogi Adityanath has got criminal cases against himself withdrawn. The UP police didn’t object when bail was granted by High Court to Ashish Mishra, son of the central minister, who mowed down five people in the Lakhimpur Khiri farmers’ protest. It was only after the intervention of the Supreme Court that Ashish Mishra is back in jail.
Hence law and order for the BJP mean treating your own criminals as honourable and targeting your opponents vindictively. The recent incidents in UP including the arrest of journalists in Ballia in a matter of leak of examination question paper and their solution show that the Yogi government is exposed on three fronts.
Law and order are in shambles. In spite of the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ slogan, women are not safe in U.P. and corruption is rampant and blatant. But the public imagination is captured by the Gyanvapi and Mathura issues, so BJP doesn’t need to worry about its governance model going for a toss.
By Sandeep Pandey and Arundhati Dhuru
(Note: Sandeep Pandey is General Secretary, Socialist Party (India) and Arundhati Dhuru is with the National Alliance of People’s Movements)
Ramon Magsaysay Awardee Social Activist & Professor at IITs & IIMs