Lucknow: The killing of two policemen and the subsequent violent protests by people including the kin of the deceased in Firozabad on Monday marks a new and potentially dangerous turn to the rapidly receding rule of law in Uttar Pradesh.
The incident not only highlighted the ineptitude of the police in dealing with emboldened criminals, but also indicated a possible caste-based score-settling mentality within the police force. And it also points out that people in general are fed up of the deteriorating law and order situation.
According to reports, constables Dinesh Pratap Singh and Giriraj Kishore Gujjar were on patrol duty on Cobra motorcycles on Sunday night when they were informed that about half a dozen miscreants had looted about Rs 6,000 in cash from a man and were fleeing towards the 60-feet road in Ramgarh area. The two policemen gave chase to the miscreants, but the latter opened fire on the policemen. Injured constable Dinesh sent a message on his wireless set asking for reinforcements but the Ramgarh station officer (SO) Ajay Kumar Yadav allegedly refused to do so. However, a police jeep reportedly reached the spot a little later but the miscreants had escaped by then and Gujjar had died. Dinesh was rushed to a hospital in Agra where he succumbed to his injuries. It is learnt that more than a dozen shots were fired at the two policemen.
As news of the incident spread in town, a crowd including family members of the deceased policemen gathered at the Subhash Chowk near the district hospital and a noisy protest was staged early in the morning. The irate crowd blocked the Kanpur-Agra-Delhi National Highway (NH2) and other roads, resorted to brick-batting in which several shops and vehicles including buses using the highway were damaged. They also set a police vehicle on fire. They were demanding action against the Ramgarh SO, alleging that he had deliberately not rushed reinforcements.
They were also demanding compensation for the family of the deceased policemen and immediate arrest of those involved in the killing of constables. Among the injured was DIG VS Meena, who was hit on his head by a brick.
Significantly, the large number of policemen present on the spot refused to initiate a lathi-charge on the protestors, as family members of the deceased policemen were among them. “The policemen on duty were heard saying that next time it could be them who could be killed doing their duty,” said a source.
A source in Firozabad said that the miscreants were allegedly involved in betting and money lending activities and were under police watch for quite some time. But they also enjoyed the patronage of some policemen of the Ramgarh police station. “The SO knew that the deceased were on the trail of the armed miscreants but he did not send reinforcements when constable Dinesh radioed him,” the source said.
The source added that the two deceased Dinesh and Kishore belonged to the Jatav and Gujjar communities respectively, and a caste conflict between them on one side and the Yadavs on the other could not be ruled out. No arrests have so far been made in the case but three police teams had been deployed to investigate the incident and nab the criminals.
The IG (range) SK Gupta later said that Ramgarh SO Ajay Kumar Yadav and sub-inspector Omar Farooq were suspended following the incident. Ishwari Dayal, father of the deceased constable Dinesh, has given a written statement to the district authorities alleging that Ramgarh SO Ajay Yadav had conspired to put Dinesh and Gujjar in a situation where they would be killed. He has demanded that Yadav’s role be investigated.
Later, an ex-gratia payment of Rs 20 lakh was announced for each family. Of this amount, Rs 10 lakh each is from the DGP and Rs 10 lakh each from the CM's discretionary fund.
Significantly, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, who was in Varanasi on Monday, said in reply to a question: “I know the reason behind the incident... I know this district... it is my district. The policemen who lay down their lives were brave men and died upholding the law and order situation.”
The SP government has effected a massive overhaul of the police and administrative set-up. In such a situation it is a moot point as to what action the government can take and against who. There is no full-fledged SP in Firozabad as the incumbent was transferred and the new appointee has not joined.
Firozabad is adjacent to Mainpuri, Kannauj and Etawah and is among the five seats won by the Samajwadi Party in the recent Lok Sabha election. SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav’s nephew Akshay Yadav is the MP from here. It is a Yadav-dominated region with a sizeable population of Dalits and most backwards castes (MBCs). The resentment against poor law and order is an indicator that even the traditional SP supporters in party strongholds might be losing patience at the indulgence being shown by the administration towards miscreants who may or may not be Yadavs.
The politicisation of the police force is now commonly mentioned as one of the reasons for the inability of the police to check crime. Information obtained under the Right to Information Act (RTI) by a Lucknow-based writer Nutan Thakur from the DGP's office mentions that the matrix of caste-based appointments as per the reservation policy is being openly flouted with a heavy leaning towards the Yadavs.
A Government Order dated June 7, 2002 mandates 50 percent posting of station officers in police stations under the general category, 21 percent under the Scheduled Caste (SC) category, 2 percent Scheduled Tribes (ST) and 27 percent other backward classes (OBC) including minorities. UP has a total of 1447 police stations and as per the GO, there shall be 724 General, 303 SC, 30 ST and 420 OBC category station officers.
However, against this, as on February 2014, there were only 597 General, 120 SC and 1 ST station officer, besides 614 OBC and 102 minority station officers. Among the OBC stations officers, a substantial section belonged to the Yadav community. For instance Meerut had 9 out of 28, Varanasi 7 out of 25, Jhansi 12 out of 26, Banda 5 out of 18, Kasganj 3 out of 11 and Bareilly 10 out of 30 Yadav station officers.
“The ruling party is taking decisions regarding transfers on narrow considerations. Why was a police chief not appointed in Firozabad so far despite it being a stronghold of the ruling party? It is clear that criminals feel so strong so as to take on the police and there is no fear of the law,” said the BJP state spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak. He added that the SP government had completely failed in upholding law and order in the state.
Updated Date: Jun 18, 2014 07:41:20 IST