There has been evidently little change when one compares corresponding one-year crime data of the BSP and the SP regimes. But if one talks of people’s perception on the same, the SP’s journey so far has been pretty downhill.
The law and order situation in the state continues to be the Achilles' heel of the Samajwadi Party government. It started from day one and continues to embarrass the government every now and then - not a happy situation at all for a dispensation making all efforts to draw investment to Uttar Pradesh.
Recently during the debate on general budget, leader of the opposition Swami Prasad Maurya charged the SP with Goondaraj, an old tag that young Akhilesh Yadav simply detested and was determined to get rid of when he took the reins a year back. Maurya justified his charges with crime data of the state.
But if one closely goes through the crime data of the state crime record bureau (SCRB), one would find that the BSP rule was no better. More than 2878 people were murdered under its rule in 2011 against 2652 murders in the corresponding period under the SP rule.
A microanalysis of the crime data of the Jhansi range gave this figure: 108 cases of rape in 2011 against 90 cases of rape in 2012. Two chief medical officers (CMOs) being gunned down in the state capital, a deputy CMO dying mysteriously in jail - the erstwhile BSP regime had its share of sensational crime incidents taking place in its 5-year rule.
This shows that there has been little change on the crime front in the two regimes. But if one talks of people's perception, there looks to be a huge change, with the Samajwadi Party taking a big hit in terms of people's trust on its government in its early days.
Be it firing by MLAs' supporters during victory processions, a minister running on horseback at a railway platform, another minister being accused of abducting a CMO or a leader enjoying minister's rank being accused of helping animal smugglers and more recently a controversial minister being named in the murder of a police officer, Akhilesh Yadav has been forced to bear barbs in his first year in office. About a dozen communal clashes also took place during this period.
Former UP director general of police (DGP) Prakash Singh, however, is of the view that instead of focusing on the crime data, emphasis should be on the challenges before the state government and improving the policing. Increasing manpower and equipping the force with latest technology are key reforms the government should undertake as a major concern of the investors is safety and security.
In cases of communal violence, however, the SP regime so far is worse placed than its predecessor. According to a Union home ministry report, nearly 100 cases of communal tension and violence were reported in 2012 in which at least 34 people were killed and 456 injured. Significantly, every third death in communal clashes in the country occurred in UP. Several people were killed and there was large scale destruction of property in the communal clashes in Mathura, Faizabad, Pratapgarh and Bareilly.
The police force of the state has been dealing with the situation just the way it has always been known to deal with them - a few arrests here and a few there. DGP AC Sharma went on record to state that a data base of those involved in the communal clash had been prepared and action would be taken against police officers of the respective districts in which communal violence breaks out. Let's see!
But amidst all this, there has been some good work done too - the women powerline launched to check crime against women. A novel idea, the helpline has been an instant hit, receiving around 67,000 complaints of which 40,000 have been disposed of. Yet there has been hardly any respite for the women from the sexual assault, bid on life and cases of chain snatching. They have been at the receiving end in both the regimes in question - 1326 cases of rape in 2011, 1036 in 2012.
Of late, growing cases of attack on cops are turning out to be another challenge for the state government. DSP Zia-ul-Haque's murder in Balipur village of Pratapgarh district on March 2, which shook the state, was not the only such incident. On October 29, a constable Umesh Kumar was shot dead while chasing criminals in Lakhimpur. Sub inspector Omveer was shot dead in Aliagrah district in October, 2012. In December last year, sub inspector Anand Pal Singh was shot dead by a group of students in Meerut. Ask ADG (Law and Order) Arun Kumar and he says the police department is concerned about the attacks on police personnel and people involved are being dealt with.
Another area of embarrassment for the present dispensation has been the involvement of the party functionaries in criminal activities, including land grabbing, contract and attack on the opponents. The recent kidnapping of zila panchayat member by the aides of Khadi minister raja Ram Pandey in Pratapgarh and the alleged kidnapping of CMO by Vinod Singh in Gonda clearly show that the state government has failed to effectively rein in its ministers from flaunting their muscle power.