In ‘jungle raj’, no one is ever safe

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]amajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav has blamed Yogi Adityanath’s ‘thoko neeti’ for the killing of the police constable in Ghazipur and accused the chief minister of being obsessed with violence. “Whether he is in the Assembly or on a stage, he only talks about violence. Sometimes the police doesn’t know who to beat up, at other times the public doesn’t know who to beat up.” Akhilesh’s sarcasm can not be lost on Yogi.

The Ghazipur incident, in which a mob of allegedly Nishad Party supporters indulged in stone throwing, leading to the death of the cop, has brought further embarrassment to the Yogi government. The incident took place even as the state was struggling to overcome the shock of the shooting of a police inspector involved in the investigation of violence by cow vigilantes in the wake of alleged cow slaughter. Yogi claimed that the whole episode was part of a political conspiracy to malign his government.

It was a poignant moment when the son of the cop killed in the Ghazipur incident slammed the state police, saying ‘if they were not able to protect their own people, what else could be expected from them’. The lament takes direct aim at the Yogi government, which has been under fire for the break-down of law and order and invited criticism as Yogi’s jungle raj, in which ‘encounter’ deaths have become a routine affair. Yogi launched his tough police policy as a response to the menace of thugs, who apparently enjoyed a free reign under the Akhilesh government, and this had become one of the sticking points against the SP rule. So, when Yogi came to power, he instructed the police to put down the problem with an iron hand, which led to what Akhilesh describes as Yogi’s ‘thoko neeti’. He is not far from the truth as many of the deaths have turned out to be in ‘fake’ encounters. Worse still, there has been a pattern in these encounters as most of the dead were Dalits, Muslims or members of backward classes. In fact, the National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to the UP government on several occasions and is probing some of the cases.

The people of the state are now caught between the devil and the hard rock, swinging between two evils. The break-down of land and order has been a major issue in the BJP’s loss of by-elections, in which the chief minister had the ignominy of seeing his own seat falling to the Opposition. This is bound to become a key factor in the coming Lok Sabha elections in which the performance of BJP in UP is of crucial importance to secure a second term for the Modi government that looks increasingly unlikely as the days go by.