The fragility of inter-community ties, as well as law and order, in west UP came to the fore once again on Monday in Loni town of Ghaziabad.
An alleged rape of a minor girl by a 65 year old man on Sunday evening not only triggered off day-long clashes between protestors and the police, but also took a strong communal color. And somewhere in the middle of the day – either by design or accident, related or unrelated – an auto driver was murdered.
The incident shows the three defining trends of the violence in UP. In incident after incident, the issue of gender – either violence against a woman or a need to save her ‘honor’ – plays a part.
Second, a criminal incident can assume a strong communal subtext because political forces are willing to hijack the issue to polarize an already divided society further.
And three, the law and order machinery in UP is being unable to cope with the new challenges. It is time for all sides to stop playing with fire.