Year 2018 ends on a terrible note for Yogi Adityanath as his beleaguered government rushes to douse another fire of a mob violence that has left a second cop dead within the span of a few weeks. There are few more chilling incidents in democracies than a police officer being killed on the job. It points to a perversity of law and order machinery that has a ripple effect on larger public order. It is an egregious offence that challenges the very writ of the state, and macho posturing from the administration does little to restore the confidence.
Killing of a cop represents the crossing of a red line. The larger message that goes out to the public is this: if an audacious assassination attempt is carried out on an officer on duty who is supposed to keep the public safe, if armed police officers are rendered powerless and vulnerable as their colleagues fall to a bullet or are hit fatally by a stone, what measure of security can the common man enjoy?
It is precisely the question that VP Singh, son of Suresh Kumar Vats, the police constable who was hit by a projectile from a violent mob in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur on Saturday afternoon, had posed to the media after learning of his father’s death.
“(If) the police is unable to protect its own people, what can the common man expect from them?”, Vats’s son said, adding that he expects nothing from a police force that is unable to even defend itself.
"Police apne logo ki suraksha nahi kar paa rahi hai, hum unse kya ummid kare (Police is unable to protect its own people. What do we expect from them?)"
Killing of a cop in line of duty must be given the highest of priorities and treated as a threat to free and civil society. This is where the buck stops with the Uttar Pradesh chief minister. His reactions so far in the case of Vats or inspector Subodh Kumar Singh — who was killed in Bulandshahr on 3 December by a rampaging mob incensed over cow carcasses being found on a field — do not inspire confidence.
The chief minister has been quick to announce job and pecuniary compensations for family members, but money can’t undo the damage dealt to the broken confidence of Uttar Pradesh's law and order machinery. Singh’s bereaved wife Sunita had accused the state of failing to do justice to her departed husband and had said that it will be done only when "his killers are killed".
Singh’s elder son Shrey, a college student, had expressed dismay that a BJP MLA, in complete disregard of the post-mortem report, had claimed that inspector Singh had “shot himself” out of “hopelessness and in haste”. “The autopsy report says he was shot from a distance of seven to eight metres. How can someone who shot himself do it?” Shrey was quoted, as saying in a report by news agency PTI.
Devender Singh, the motormouth BJP MLA from Bulandshahr, was possibly playing to the gallery in his constituency but this must be counted as Adityanath's administrative failure. He could have admonished the MLA to send a message, but he didn’t. It was Adityanath's police that prioritised cow slaughter probe over the killing of a fellow cop with the result that while three were arrested on 18 December for their alleged role in killing the cows, it was not before 27 December that main accused Prashant Natt was finally nabbed — three weeks after he allegedly snatched the service revolver of inspector Singh and put a bullet between his eyes. Yogesh Raj, the district convenor of Bajrang Dal’s local unit and the alleged chief instigator of the mob, is still at large.
In Ghazipur, the police has registered an FIR against 32 persons and mentioned another “unnamed” 80 in the complaint report but with Nishad Party — that possesses considerable clout in the local Nishad community in eastern UP and enjoys backing from both the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party — being at the centre of attention for organizing the violent protest and killing an on-duty constable, there is no guarantee that justice will be served instead of falling prey to political opportunism.
As an administrator, Adityanath likes to portray a ‘tough guy’ image, promoting police encounters and declaring that “human rights are for common man, not criminals and terrorists”. It is the language of vigilantes, not the elected chief minister of a state. Law and order machinery in UP has always been subservient to political power and pelf, but its descent into chaos now seems complete. Adityanath has his work cut out in the New Year. Questions remain over his intent though.
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Updated Date: Dec 31, 2018 21:54:17 IST