Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, in an exclusive interview to Network18 group editor-in-chief Rahul Joshi, made several claims about the situation in the state since he came to power.
One of the important claims he made was about the law and order situation in his state currently being "at its best in the last 15-20 years".
In July, DGP OP Singh, too, had made a similar claim, and said that the crime rate in Uttar Pradesh was at the lowest in the past two-and-a-half-years as compared to the rest of the country.
So much are the authorities involved in portraying an improvement in the situation that when Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra claimed in June that crime rates were on the rise, the state police was quick to hit out on social media. "Because of Uttar Pradesh Police has been effectively working, there has been a 20-35 percent decline in crimes. All sensational crimes have been solved in 48 hours," the state police said on Twitter, without providing any proof.
Visible policing,strong monitoring,effective action against hardened criminals & public interaction has enabled us to win the confidence of people.
Crime under all major heads is down by 20-35%
We are committed to the safety and security of citizens of the state
— UP POLICE (@Uppolice) June 29, 2019
The 2016 'Crime in India' statistics released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) showed that Uttar Pradesh, also the most populous in the country, recorded the highest number of heinous crimes such as murder and those against women. While 4,889 cases of murder were recorded, 49,262 cases were registered on crimes against women. The state then recorded 9.5 percent of the total cases in the country registered under the Indian Penal Code. The NCRB statistics after 2016 are yet to be available online.
Police records published in July by India Today, showed that the number of rape cases had reduced from 2,016 cases in 2017 to 1,892 cases in 2018, and finally to 1,224 in 2019. Murder cases, too, had slightly dropped from 2,008 in 2017 to 1,972 in 2018.
A dramatic increase was seen in the number of domestic violence cases, which rose from 6,156 in 2017 to 6,991 cases in 2019. Dowry deaths also went up from 1,070 cases in 2017 to 1,088 cases in 2019. With a few months still left for the year to end, these numbers are expected to rise further.
If we look at cases of hate crime, as per Hate Crime Watch — a database of religious identity-based hate crimes across India — Uttar Pradesh reported the most number of hate crimes in 2018 since 2009. This is in complete contradiction to what Adityanath appears to be claiming.
'No mob lynching'
In a startling claim, Adityanath said during the interview that there "has been no incident of mob lynching in Uttar Pradesh because we removed elements that incite riots in the first stage." An analysis by IndiaSpend contradicts this, and points out that there were eleven cases of cow-related violence from March 2017 (when Adityanath came to power) to December 2018. These included the lynchings of 45-year-old Qasim Qureshi in Hapur, 20-year-old Shahrukh Khan in Bareilly, and the killing of a police officer and a bystander in Bulandshahr.
Poor police staffing, use of budget
A study conducted early in 2019 ranked Uttar Pradesh as the worst state in terms of police staffing, and use of budget. The findings were based on 'Police Adequacy Index', and the state's overall index value was at 0.31, below the national overall index value which was at 0.42.
The study found that the state police force was functioning at 48 percent of its capacity, which is less than half of its total sanctioned strength. Poor police strength would mean there aren't enough personnel to effectively ensure law and order is in place.
Moreover, the report also found that as of 2016, there were 14 police stations without wireless connectivity, and 51 stations without a telephone. The study noted that a 2017 report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had also highlighted Uttar Pradesh‘s failings with respect to improving the access to communications facilities for the police. "According to the CAG’s performance audit, a major reason for the state’s lack of basic communication infrastructure is their inability to utilise the budget adequately by expediting procurement of essential equipment and replacement of obsolete equipment and technologies," it said. Whether this issue has been resolved or not is not known.
Vehicular access was another major issue as the report found Uttar Pradesh had an overall deficit of 57.8 percent for all vehicles in 2016. This may also serve as a hindrance to the efficient execution of a policeman's duties.
The problem with Uttar Pradesh statistics
A 2018 survey by Association for Democratic Reforms found that voters rated the current law and order situation as below average. 'Law and order/policing' was also among the top three priorities of the voters.
While the authorities continue to claim that crime rates in Uttar Pradesh are at their lowest, a closer look at statistics would make one raise serious questions about the data.
Two of the ways in which the authorities are said to have projected lower crime rates are by: (a) not registering cases in the first place and (b) invoking special and local laws (SLL) more rather than the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
According to a report in The Indian Express, while most states register more cases under the IPC, Uttar Pradesh Police invoked other Acts more often, including the Arms Act, Goondas Act and Motor Vehicles Act. As the report points out, important IPC sections are what are considered while making assessments of law and order.
Some other data also bring into question official claims about low crime rates. For example, in 2013, Madhya Pradesh reported 4,335 rape cases as against 3,063 rape cases in Uttar Pradesh, although the population of the former state is one-third of the latter. However, the number of murder cases in Uttar Pradesh was over twice that of Madhya Pradesh. As argued in this Scroll article, this may be because in murder cases, bodies cannot be made to disappear, due to which it is more difficult for the police not to register a case.
An additional issue is also what qualifies to be a law and order problem in the eyes of Adityanath. During the Wednesday interview, he also claimed that cases such as Unnao rape "have nothing to do with law and order situation" in the state because they are "associated with the mindset of the people".
Hence, Adityanath's claims need greater scrutiny.
Updated Date: Sep 19, 2019 20:00:27 IST