On December 3, 2018, a station house officer (SHO), inspector Subodh Kumar Singh, was shot to death while trying to peacefully control the frenzied mob protesting over alleged cow slaughtering in Bulandshahr district of Uttar Pradesh. It is not the first time that a policeman was attacked by a mob in Uttar Pradesh. In June 2017, a police team was attacked by a mob resorting to stone pelting over the news of cow slaughter. In June 2016, two policemen, a superintendent of police and a station house officer, were killed in a conflict led by an armed group called Swadhin Bharat Vidhik Satyagraha. These instances not only highlight the flailing state of law and order in UP, but also the vulnerability of police officers in such cases of ‘mobocracy’ which has become a prevalent culture these days.
In just two days after the Bulandshahr rioting, what ensued was a row of speculations, allegations and protectionism of the main accused by outfits like Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) representatives. According to a local BJP MP, the accused, Yogeshraj who is on the run since the day of rioting was doing a noble and eye-opening work. It is statements like these that further empower these goons to flout the rule of law according to their own interests. The fact that they can get away with their crimes due to political backing further instils the culture of impunity in the state. In such circumstances, the role of a police officer is reduced to be a mere link between the political heads and these groups, rather than functioning as a link between rule of law and the civilians. The archaic system of functioning, the politicization of the police department and lack of autonomy have eternally projected a ‘police’ as a servant and more, a political servant. This disrespect for and failure to recognise the police department as an independent policing body, majorly by the rulers of the state has further given a free hand to the religious outfits, predominantly Hindutvawadis, to resort to barbaric acts as and when needed.
In the latest developments of the case, Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath presses on the need to investigate the alleged cow slaughter and the discovered cow carcasses first and then the killing of the police station house officer, Subodh Kumar Singh. The fact that the Chief Minister of the largest state emphasizes more on the discovered cow carcasses and claims the rioting to be a ‘part of a larger conspiracy’ highlights the only priority of his government. Cow vigilantism is not a display of any genuine love or religious respect for the animal and is simply a matter of Hindu-Muslim pride. The details of the case include contradicting statements by Yogesh Raj, the accused on the run. Also, an FIR was filed by Yogesh Raj which names seven Muslims over alleged cow slaughtering, however, the claims of cow slaughtering still remain contentious. Hence, this also highlights the case of local vengeance over matters of cow protection and cow pride as the only symbol of Hinduism, as perpetrated by a larger narrative of the ruling party, BJP. It is the security of the state and the state machinery that has no role to play in the chronicles run by politicians, but, often becomes a victim of this vicious political and social hullabaloo. If a democratically elected Chief Minister of a state prioritizes cow over the case of killing an on-duty officer, then all expectations of law and order prevailing in such a state remain abortive.
“Today my father lost his life in this Hindu- Muslim dispute, whose father will it be tomorrow?” says 17-year-old Abhishek, son of the deceased Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh. It is this question that must bother us henceforth. It is high time that the star campaigner of the ruling party, Yogi Adityanath is held accountable for the communal fire set in the state, which periodically keeps blazing the law and order of the state. Mob lynching or mobocracy has become the most dangerous epidemic that is attacking democratic and constitutional values at the core. Even a single incident of such hooliganism should have an impact on us and make us ponder over its effects on the functioning of a civilized state. These mobs resorting to stone pelting, attacking with guns, lathis etc. are no less than any other militants who are against the state and need to be controlled.
A stringent action and a speedy trial in the case of killing a police officer and not on the cow carcasses by the State government would have set a precedent in strengthening the police force of Uttar Pradesh and other states as well and could have projected a positive image of Yogi Adityanath. It was now time for CM Yogi Adityanath to act as a Chief Minister of a state and not as a devout priest of a temple. It was now time for him to choose between the protection of ‘gau rakhshaks’ and protection of the state machinery. Unfortunately, Yogi Adityanath failed in addressing the case correctly, displayed his hypocrisy once again and in effect the functioning of law and state systems in Uttar Pradesh will further continue to be in a dismal state.
Bhatnagar, A. (2018, December 6). BJP MP backs accused: He’s doing noble work, wait for investigation. The Indian Express, p. 9.
UP: Police team attacked by mob in Muzaffarnagar who reached spot over complains of cow slaughter. (2017, June 27). India Today. Retrieved from https://www.indiatoday.in/india/video/uttar-pradesh-muzaffarnagar-mob-attacks-cops-848156-2017-06-27
Image Credit: Times Now News
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