'Kaam bolta hai' (work speaks for itself) is the war cry of Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party ahead of the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. It's for the voters of India's largest state to decide whether the work done by his government in the last five years is enough to give them another term. But there have been enough cases where the state police have been forced by politicians and bureaucrats to exceed their brief and go beyond legal systems and procedures. While some such cases have got publicity, some others were hushed up, and many perhaps never came into public domain at all.
The case of powerful minority voice and senior minister of the state Azam Khan's buffaloes being stolen and then recovered by the police may have hit headlines, but that's not the only example of police being misused in the state. There was also a top IAS officer from Uttar Pradesh, now retired. He was said to be the blue eyed boy of the chief minister, and held many a plum posting before retiring.
In February last year, he had hosted his son's wedding reception in Lucknow, and several big industrialists had attended the function. Four days later, an expensive necklace which was received as a gift was found missing. The finger of suspicion immediately went towards two domestic help who were in charge of shifting the gifts from the wedding venue to the bureaucrat's house. Within minutes, police swooped down and the servants were whisked away.
Surprisingly, they weren't taken to the Hazrat Ganj police station, under whose jurisdiction the matter came. Instead they were taken to the far flung Bakshi Ka Talab police station, which falls in the rural outskirts of the city. Let alone a first information report (FIR), even a written complaint wasn't given to the cops. But the matter involved the topmost bureaucrat of the state, so the police displayed extra vigilance and the suspects were picked up and subjected to third degree torture.
This interrogation continued for two months, and the duo was even made to go through a lie detector test. But there were no results. In the meantime, the police also suffered a major embarrassment, when one of the suspects tried to kill himself in police custody by drinking poison.
When ultimately the questioning yielded no results, the two suspects were let off, and their service at the bureaucrat's house was also terminated.
Sources say the two were innocent and had no idea about the theft. But the police, forced and pressured by the power corridors to produce a confession, interrogated them over two months, even using brute force and torture techniques without any reason. The sources have added that when no information was forthcoming even after two months, the bureaucrat summoned a top police official and asked to be compensated for Rs 30 lakh, which was the value of the necklace. Failing to do this, the top cop was unceremoniously attached to DGP headquarters, a common punishment posting. The "official" reason given was that he had failed to control crime in the state capital.
A retired bureaucrat, on condition of anonymity, described the last five years under the Samajwadi Party as "jiski laathi uski bhains". He said the law is only for those who have affluence and influence. Anybody who doesn't have these two qualities is always at the receiving end of the law in Uttar Pradesh, he said.
People of the state are unfavourably comparing this government with the previous Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) establishment, which saw improvement in law and order in the state. But the Samajwadi establishment still proudly chants, "Kaam bolta hai," a deliberate attempt designed to not even ensure a discussion on the law and order situation prevailing in the state.