There has been a 33% increase in crimes against women under the Yogi Adityanath govt in UP, according to reports quoting a reply given by the state govt. in the Legislative Assembly. Rape cases have increased by 26%, ‘assault with intention to outrage modesty’ have increased by 40% while harassment cases have shot up by a staggering 99%, the reply said.
This shatters the myth propagated by the BJP govt. in the state that it is following a zero tolerance policy towards crime, especially crimes against women. In recent weeks, the Yogi govt. has been pilloried for protecting the BJP MLA from Unnao district who is accused of raping a 17 year old girl last year. The girl’s complaint was not registered by the local police, her family was threatened and her father died in police custody recently after allegedly being beaten up by the accused MLA’s brother. The case has caused countrywide outrage and the Allahabad High Court stepped in to order arrest of the accused. CBI is now investigating the case.
One of the first measures announced by Chief minister Yogi Adityanath after assuming power in March 2017 was formation of anti-Romeo squads ostensibly to stop harassment of women on streets and other public places. This move had come under severe criticism for unleashing a wave of unjustified harassment of couples by police and other self styled protectors of women.
As the crime figures show, far from controlling crime against women, the Yogi govt.’s reign appears to have given a sense of impunity to criminals. With nearly 55,000 cases registered in the space of 10 months, a picture of breakdown of law and order appears to be taking place in India’s largest state.
Contributing to this, arguably, is the sense of impunity among ruling party supporters as revealed by the Unnao case. Had the govt. not given a long rope to the Unnao MLA Senger and his family, and taken prompt action after the victim’s plight came to light, it may have sent a message to others inclined to commit such crimes. It would appear, many believe, that zero tolerance policy does not extend to ruling party supporters.
Yogi’s administration has been patting itself on the back for carrying out 1,200 encounters in a year that have led to the death of 34 alleged criminals, left 265 injured and got 2744 history-sheeters arrested. Encounters are incidents of police shooting an alleged criminal during a confrontation or when the criminal is attempting to escape from custody. Many suspect that the state police has been given a free hand to shoot people they suspect of criminal activity. This arbitrary power is being widely misused, it is alleged.
The Yogi govt. has also reportedly slapped the draconian National Security Act (NSA) against 167 criminals and seized assets worth nearly Rs 150 crore. This too indicates an inclination to use laws that give too much power (no bail, no trial for long periods, ability to seize assets) to the administration.
Conversely, the state govt. has withdrawn over 20,000 cases mostly against supporters of the ruling BJP, including several cases against Yogi himself.