NEW DELHI: The violence in Mathura triggered a political war on Friday and exposed once again the Samajwadi Party government’s biggest weakness ahead of assembly polls early next year — Uttar Pradesh’s dismal law-and-order situation.
Opposition parties clamoured to attack the Akhilesh Yadav government with the BJP alleging the squatters in Mathura’s Jawahar Bagh, who allegedly shot dead two police officers, had the protection of the ruling party. It demanded a judicial inquiry with minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju blaming the state government. “Definitely there was a lapse. It was a big incident and there was setback,” he said. The home ministry has sought a detailed report from the state government on the incident, he added.
Expressing “deepest condolences” to the kin of those killed, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said, “Unabated violence is a stark reminder of the deteriorating law and order situation in UP. Hope the government ensures peace in Mathura is restored immediately and the guilty are punished.”
But the SP cautioned against playing politics with the issue.
BSP supremo Mayawati demanded the resignation of the SP government and demanded a judicial inquiry, holding the state administration responsible for the “unfortunate and painful” incident.
“After the Mathura incident, everybody in UP is talking about Behenji’s shahshan (Mayawati’s rule). When she was at the helm, all these criminals who enjoy political patronage had gone into hiding,” a senior BSP leader told HT on phone from Lucknow.
T he clashes erupted in the heart of Mathura late Thursday when a police team reached Jawahar Bagh to remove squatters from the Swadhin Bharat Vidhik Satyagrah following a court order.
But the 3,000-odd encroachers allegedly opened fire on the police, sparking off violence in which 24 people were killed and over 100 injured.
The incident came on top of a string of low-intensity riots across the state and the mob lynching of Mohammad Ikhlaq last year over rumours that he had slaughtered a calf — events that have given opposition parties ammunition to attack the SP government as being lax on law and order.
The sharpest attack came from the BJP that is hoping to replicate its bumper Lok Sabha electoral success — it won 71 of the state’s 80 seats — in the assembly polls.
“T he main conspirator has full protection of the Samajwadi Party. Policemen were sent with their hands tied and this is why two of them died,” said national secretary Shrikant Sharma in Mathura.
He was referring to alleged links between the squatting cult’s chief Ram Vriksha Yadav and the ruling party. Ram Vriksha Yadav was an aide of religious leader Jai Gurudev — who was said to be close to the SP — but the duo fell out before the spiritual guru’s death.
Sharma termed the killing of policemen as the “height of anarchy” and said criminals were “highly-motivated” because of their “protection” by the ruling party — the reason for about 900 cases of attacks on police personnel under SP rule.
But SP denied any links with Ram Vriksha Yadav with senior UP minister Shivpal Singh Yadav saying there should be no politics over the deaths.