The political heat over the Nithari killings appeared to single the Mulayam Singh Yadav government on Saturday with Congress President Sonia Gandhi saying that the CBI enquiry was the result of sustained pressure from her party as Yadav had initially declined to order it. She added that there was no law and order in Uttar Pradesh and that some crime or the other was happening every day.
Sonia Gandhi's early morning visit to Nithari was followed by the visit of Brinda Karat of CPI(M); a perennial ally of UP's ruling Samajwadi Party. If Yadav was hoping for some political balm, he was mistaken; Karat too slammed the lax administration and the callous police force for the grisly murders.
On Friday, Brinda had described as "shocking, unbelievable and insensitive" the reported statement of UP PWD minister and CM's brother Shivpal Singh Yadav that the Nithari incident was a small one and such incidents keep happening.
On Saturday, Sonia said that if the Congress had not applied pressure on the UP government, a CBI enquiry would never have been ordered. "We had demanded for a CBI probe right in the beginning. But the chief minister refused to do that...Now it has been done under pressure from the Congress," she said. Ashok Gehlot, general secretary with the All India Congress Committee, accompanied her.
Sonia also indicated that the Centre may announce a separate compensation packages for the victims' families in addition to the state government's Rs 5 lakh per family. The Congress president, however, evaded queries on the possibility of imposing President's rule in the state.
The families with whom she interacted complained about the way the administration and the police have handled the case. Sonia also took a tour of the area adjoining house number D-5 where Moninder Singh Pandher and Surender Koli allegedly lured, raped and murdered more than 30 children over a two-year period.
Brinda reached Nithari at about 9-30 pm and also met the families, many of which are from Bihar and West Bengal.
The case, she said, has exposed the helplessness and vulnerability of migrant labour. "Delhi and its surrounding areas have a large workforce comprising migrant labour. The incident has shown the lack of access this workforce has to the justice system. Children go missing and cases are not registered," Brinda said.
She added that it is right that CBI would investigate a crime that has many dimensions. "How can the Uttar Pradesh police be given the job of investigating the crime after its role in the delay in registering a case has come to light? People and also the families no longer have faith in them (the police)," Brinda told HT.