No justice for Badaun girls: Why is Akhilesh govt shielding accused?
But what the SP leadership has been unable to shake off is the popular perception that all the moves are more political in nature rather than an honest effort to actually change the way the state is being governed.
Lucknow: The rape and murder of two girls in Badaun seems to have triggered a shake-up in the Uttar Pradesh government machinery which even the near-decimation of the party in the recent Lok Sabha election could not do. Not only has Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav transferred hundreds of officers, suspended more than half a dozen, withdrawn security or armed guards from dozens of individuals and dismissed dozens of nominated officials, but the Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav has disbanded party units at various levels.
But what the SP leadership has been unable to shake off is the popular perception that all the moves are more political in nature rather than an honest effort to actually change the way the state is being governed. That all the measures are more political in nature is the fact that most of the district magistrates transferred were those who had been posted by the Election Commission prior to the election. Other transfers were also made after a review of the electoral defeat.
Confirming this belief was the Sunday announcement that all district SP units except Firozabad, Mainpuri, Kannauj, Badaun, Rampur, Azamgarh, Amethi and Rae Bareli were dissolved. Interestingly, the SP has won from all these districts except Rampur, Amethi and Rae Bareli. The Congress won from the latter two and the SP had not put up any candidate in these two places. As for Rampur it is the bastion of the powerful minister Mohammad Azam Khan, even though the party lost from that district. The state unit of the party and 15 front wings had been dissolved on 22 May.
More specific to the Badaun case, the feeling has grown that the establishment is trying to protect the alleged culprits in the Badaun case despite the international outrage at the rape and murder of two cousins aged 15 and 14, whose bodies were found hanging from a mango tree in a village in Badaun district on 27 May. Preliminary post-mortem investigation had revealed that both had been gangraped and then hanged from a tree, and that the cause of death was hanging.
Even though the state government recommended a probe by the CBI into the incident and constituted a four-member Special Investigation Team (SIT), the state’s director general of police AL Banerjee announced in Lucknow on Saturday (7 June) that this could be a case of "honour" killing. He went to the extent of saying that rape was “not confirmed” in case of the one of the victims, and that the arrested people could well be “innocent.”
The announcement came during a press conference at which the state’s chief secretary, principal secretary (home) and his two secretaries, the DGP, ADGP (law and order) and the principal secretary (information) were present. It was also announced that district magistrate and senior superintendent of police of Badaun had also been suspended, and more than 100 IAS and PCS officers had been transferred. The officals evaded an answer to the reason of the two officers’ suspension in view of the DGP’s disclosure. The mega press meet was organized on a day when Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the MP from Lucknow, was in town on the first visit since taking office. Singh told the media at a party programme later in the night that it was "not correct" to comment on the situation or the intentions of the state government.
Mulayam’s nephew Dharmendra Yadav is the MP from Badaun and most of the police stations in the district – as well in the state – have Yadavs on the force. This phenomenon is typical of the Samajwadi Party’s reign in Uttar Pradesh and had been seen during the 2004-2007 SP regime also.
"The ruling family in the SP has always been protective and supportive of the Yadavs, regardless of the criticism it attracts. The police recruitment in 2004 also reflected this. The perception among the Yadav community is very strong that the ruling family would go to any extent to protect their clansmen," says a non-Yadav SP sympathizer. "In the Lok Sabha election the party lost all seats contested by non-family members, and it is now critical for it to consolidate whatever Yadav support it has in the community in view of the coming by-elections in the state, including Mainpuri which is close to Badaun."
Mulayam had vacated Mainpuri following his victory from Azamgarh also. With anger rising against the SP, made worse by Sunday’s killing of the Noida BJP leader Vijay Pandit, it is being felt that the going for the SP could be tough in Mainpuri. This could explain the unusual attempt to protect the Yadav culprits in the Badaun case, he suggested.
Family members of the Badaun victims also said they did not expect justice from the SP government as all the five arrested culprits, including two policemen, are Yadavs. They said that local toughies had threatened him that once the media and police spotlight receded, leave they will be at their mercy again. At present more than 200 security personnel have been posted at the village to guard the victims’ family members. The SP has always shared an uneasy relationship with the most backward castes (MBCs) and the Scheduled Castes (SCs). The Badaun victims belonged to the MBCs and not SCs as reported earlier.
Akhilesh Yadav said in a recent interview to a newspaper that the family members of the Badaun victims were acting "at the behest of the BSP." To support his claim, he said that a BSP MLA had briefed the victims’ family about what they should say to the media. He also pointed out that the family members took money from the BSP president Mayawati and not from the state government.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress have pounced upon the turnaround by the state police, saying that the DGP was trying to "change the direction" of the investigation prior to the CBI take-over of the case. UPCC spokesman Hilal Ahmad Naqvi said DGP Banerjee’s statement is an attempt to protect the culprits "at the behest of the ruling party’s leadership."
BJP president Laxmikant Bajpai said that "policemen are among the accused, the police is investigating the case and the police is giving the verdict that the culprits could be innocent. Could there be a worse travesty of justice?"
There also appears little sympathy for the victims on the part of the ruling party or the state’s police. Akhilesh Yadav has been blaming the media for unnecessarily highlighting crime in the state and has been adamant about not visiting Badaun.
Mulayam Singh Yadav also made a critical remark against the media in this connection. The SP general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav said in many cases the consensual relationship between girls and boys was termed rape, or honour killings took place in similar cases.
Adding to the misery of the people – and discomfiture of the ruling party – is the critical power situation in the state. With day temperatures hovering around 47 degrees Celsius, the state is reeling under a severe electricity shortage. Power demand is estimated at 11,000 mw against the generation capacity of 8,000 mw. The situation has led to altercations and mob violence at many places including Lucknow, Agra, Gorakhpur, Kanpur and Gonda.
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