Uttar Pradesh is getting increasingly unsafe, not just for women and children but for policemen. In the past one week, two sub-inspectors have been shot. Sub-inspector Akhtar Khan was shot dead by criminals in Greater Noida during an encounter and another inspector Aditya Yadav was shot at by criminals in Basti district.
The terror of criminals in both the cases was so great that other policemen chose to find cover for themselves before helping their injured colleagues. Earlier in the week, policemen were at the receiving end from a mob that was protesting against demolition of their huts in Rampur. The police tried to stall the demonstration against UP minister Azam Khan and became the target of the people’s wrath. In another incident in Mathura, where the groom and the bride’s family clashed over shortage of ice cream during the wedding, the police intervened. Both the warring groups attacked the cops, leaving three of them seriously injured. A police team was attacked in Badaun, leaving two cops seriously injured. Attacks on police personnel in Uttar Pradesh have increased alarmingly during the Samajwadi Party reign and according to the government’s own admission, 1,050 incidents of attacks on the men in khaki have taken place since the party came to power in March 2012.
In the Mayawati regime, the number of attacks on cops stood at 547. “This is actually anger at the government which gets diverted to the police. Members of the SP have been on a law-breaking spree—whether it is eve teasing or road rage—and the police is forced to remain a mute spectator. Therefore, when the police try to move out and control situation, the people give it right back to the cops”, said Preeti Kumar, a sociologist. A former DGP, meanwhile, feels that the police force has lost its authority in recent years. “A cop, today, is considered neither a friend by the public, nor a foe by the criminals which means that its authority has been completely eroded. Criminals do not fear the cops because they know that a phone call from their mentors in the ruling party will bail them out. The common man has also become defiant because when they see a traffic constable ignoring violation of rules by a car with a red beacon light or a ruling party flag, they refuse to toe the line,” he said. “Today it is the Samajwadi Party, tomorrow it could be the BJP, BSP or the Congress, but once the police loses its authority and credibility, the system will disintegrate and no one will be safe. It is up to the politicians to realise the gravity of the situation”, he stated.
A senior police officer admitted that increased political interference was spelling doom for the morale of the force. “Policemen, posted in posh areas of Lucknow like Gautam Palli, Butler Palace and Gomti Nagar refuse to take action in any crime situation and wait for six to eight hours before registering a complaint. They say that they do not want to be hauled up for booking the son of any influential person involved in crime. In this situation, how can you even expect policing to be effective?” he asked.
UP DGP Javeed Ahmed, meanwhile, said that he had directed officials to slap NSA on those accused of attacking the police.