Akhilesh’s poor handling of the communal riots proves his incompetence as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister.
The state of Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, sending 80 members to the Lok Sabha, is the kingmaker for any government formation in Delhi. In addition to being notorious for crime, casteism and corruption of the worst kind, it has also become the most communally violent state in India. According to official information released by the Ministry of Home Affairs, over 100 communal clashes occurred during the year 2012 in UP. Communal clashes have become a regular, almost monthly affair, ever since the Samajwadi Party came to power in 2012, cumulatively costing several hundred lives. Here is the snapshot: June 2012 Mathura and Muzaffarnagar; July 2012: Bareilly; September 2012 Ghaziabad; October 2012 Faizabad; December 2012 Azamgarh; January 2013 Lucknow; April, July 2013 Meerut; August 2013 Muzaffarnagar; September 2013: Shamli and Muzaffarnagar, which is still simmering. The MHA statistics confirm the fact that communal riots in Uttar Pradesh are deadlier, and with higher fatality rate than the rest of the country.
UP has become a land where politicians base their legitimacy and power on the loyalty principle of respective castes and religions, through which they control large sections of their followers. They are like tribal warlords whose word is law, even though officially there is supposed to be the rule of law in operation, based on the Anglo Saxon pattern. They appropriate the wealth of the State, the taxpayer's money, funds meant for peoples' welfare, and then abandon them to illiteracy, disease and abject poverty to be inherited in perpetuity. The UP warlords are not unduly perturbed about their people's deprivation. How else will they be able to control their votes, election after election? But this primitive exercise of power has made them forget that caste and religion obtain loyalty only up to a point. Beyond that, the people want their basic expectations from government met, which they see happening in other states, but are denied to them, simply because the money meant for them never reaches them. Remember the recent NRHM scam, where thousands of crores meant for providing better health facilities to the people of UP were siphoned off by a criminal partnership of politicians and government functionaries. While other states have been able to give their people more modern and upgraded primary health centres, better maternal care, UP can only boast of one more CBI inquiry, and about half a dozen murders of Chief Medical Officers in broad daylight. Apart from complete ignorance of how to govern and having no such intention anyway, a government composed of power-brokers and criminals is bound to get alienated from whichever caste or religion they claim as captive vote banks. It has happened in Bihar, and presently, a great political churning and disaffection is visible in UP, in the aftermath of the Ahkilesh Yadav government's complete failure to handle communal violence, especially the recent clashes that emanated from Muzaffarnagar.
We are still not sure of how the communal clashes started. Some reports suggest it was eve teasing, and others that it was a traffic accident. Whatever it was, there are adequate laws regarding both issues, which had they been enforced instantly by the local police and magistracy, could have contained the tragic mayhem that followed. Obviously the local officials have lost their will and capacity to enforce laws, groomed as they would be in decades of lawlessness during when all statutory authority, including that flowing from the Indian Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code, regarding registration of FIRs, has been expropriated and is being exercised benaami by the political representatives. The sting operation conducted by a news channel regarding the cops and Azam Khan gives a clear indication of this. And what has become a reality in our democracy, which the sooner we accept the better, is that cutting edge police appointments at SHO levels are done purely on caste grounds, so that law enforcement can also follow a caste agenda. This is what political scientists refer to as the collapse of the state, or a failed state.
Communal tensions continue in Muzzafarnagar, even after two months of the initial outbreak. On 30 October again three people are reported to have lost their lives, something completely unacceptable and unpardonable. It only confirms a complete breakdown of the state and administrative authority, of the capability of the police and magistracy from tehsil to district levels, to enforce law and order, and the complete failure of oversight and control by the state government and Chief Minister.
No one still knows the number of lives lost; they could well be in hundreds. But what is reported universally is that at least 40,000 people are still living in makeshift relief camps, even though almost two months have elapsed since the riots started. UP has created a shocking humanitarian crisis for itself, and a new category of communal riot victims, equivalent of "internal refugees". We are not aware of what confidence building measures the state machinery has undertaken to persuade them to return to their homes, though almost two months have elapsed after the riots first started. Is any further evidence required to establish the state's callousness and complicity towards its own people whom they have converted into refugees in their own state? Clearly, another confirmation that the state of Uttar Pradesh has completely broken down, both in intent and action. It was looking away in utter inaction when Muzaffarnagar was burning, and now it is doing the same to the humanitarian crisis of such a huge magnitude within its own borders. The fact that communal disturbances have become a political industry by itself in UP only compound the government's political crimes against the people.
What is surprising is the relative silence of the human rights NGOs and activists, wherever they are funded from, who normally react very swiftly and vociferously to assist the victims of communal clashes, or provide them legal support to secure their legitimate rights, who should have called for accountability from the Akhilesh government as to why his government remained inactive allowing the situation to assume such dangerous and inhuman levels.
Except for one Public Interest Litigation filed by Nutan Thakur before the Allahabad High Court, I am not aware of any humanitarian NGOs taking up the cause of the Muzaffarnagar riot victims. We have several organisations with a successful track record of taking up such unfortunate causes, and they normally make their presence felt very briskly and efficiently. Their absence in UP does seem a little mystifying. Also, to the best of my knowledge, I am not aware of any human rights groups approaching the NHRC seeking relief or asking for accountability from the government, or fixing responsibility as to why the situation remained uncontrolled for weeks together, and continues to simmer even today. Neither am I aware of any suo motu action taken by the NHRC, which it can well take, to direct the government to take urgent action to end the suffering of the people trapped in this humanitarian crisis, or approach the Supreme Court to take appropriate action such as the constitution of a Special Investigation Team, as to why the communal riots were allowed to persist unchecked for almost two weeks, and why communal tension remains unabated even today, that the victims from relief camps do not even wish to return to their own homes.
We have still not heard from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom about their views on the communal clashes in UP. The United States appears to be a favourite travel destination of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, and obviously, his US visa is intact, though it remains to be seen whether it will continue to be so. So too the British and European Union representatives have not yet reacted to the gross violation of human rights going on in UP, the CM's callous inaction, the state on a dangerous auto pilot, and atrocities piling up against the people. It remains to be seen whether they will boycott him, in their universal commitment to protect human rights and religious freedom.
Article credits ,Shri.RAM JETHMALANI,ETHICS & POWER,The Sunday Gaurdian