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Akhilesh Yadav has come out looking incompetent in Mathura violence

Uttar Pradesh CM continues to be seen as a man with little control over the state’s law and order apparatus.

 |  6-minute read |   03-06-2016
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Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav might be moving heaven and earth to build “brand Akhilesh” and cast himself as the architect of a new “developed” Uttar Pradesh, but owing to certain acts of omission or commission by some members of his own ruling clan, he continues to be seen as a man with little control over the state’s law and order apparatus.

Thursday’s violence and arson in Mathura is yet another glaring example of how he was rendered ineffective in getting illegal occupants evicted from government land, which a band of goons had grabbed with the alleged patronage of his own Samajwadi Party's bigwigs.

mathura--_1464960299_060316074633.jpg The impression about him remaining a 'majboor' CM may continue to grow.

Sure enough, the daylight exchange of fire between the police and members of a self-styled activist outfit that claimed 22 lives and left dozens injured would not have taken place if timely action had been taken against the Swadheen Bharat Subhash Sena (Independent India Subhash Army), whose members were camping on sprawling 280 acres of land, officially declared as a public park.

While opposition leaders like Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo and former UP chief minister Mayawati had already begun accusing the ruling dispensation of allowing the illegal squatters to establish control over the park for more than three years, a daredevil serving IPS officer has gone to the extent of pointing the needle of suspicion to none other than Akhilesh’s uncle Shivpal Yadav, who was also the most powerful man in his cabinet.

On Friday, IPS officer Amitabh Thakur, who was reinstated recently after a prolonged suspension as inspector general of police, issued a statement demanding “a high level probe into the role of Shivpal Yadav, particularly as regards his overt and covert support to the criminal outfit that illegally captured the public park”.

Locals were openly talking about the close proximity between Shivpal and Ram Vriksh Yadav, the self-styled leader of the shady outfit, whose members were squatting unlawfully on the public land.

Interestingly, he was still at large, even as nearly 400 members of the organisation were rounded up by the police, while 20 had lost their lives in the firing and arson that rocked the holy town, widely known as the birthplace of Lord Krishna.

Such accusations may not be without reason. It was no secret that the "Swadheen Bharat Subhash Sena (Independent India Subhash Army)" had started occupation of the park barely a few months after the Samajwadi Party rode on to power in March 2012. By 2013, their control over the park was complete and undisputed.

Locals believe that the name of Subhash Chandra Bose was used by the group only to attach some credibility to their so-called “sena”,  constituted largely of the followers of Baba Jai Gurudev, a self-styled godman who commanded a large following of illiterate rural masses. Shivpal Yadav too was considered close to Gurudev.

The powerful SP leader, who is also a multi-portfolio minister in the Akhilesh government, was alleged to exercise such control over the self-styled godman’s organisation that he had the authority to even formally anoint the supposed godman’s chauffer as his official successor shortly after his demise in 2012.

While top officials declined to comment on the issue, they were equally at a loss to explain why no effort was made by the state administration to evict the illegal squatters from the park in the past three years.

The government initiated action only after it was left with no choice in the wake of a stern directive from the high court. While flatly denying all the allegations, Shivpal claimed, “I myself told local officials each time I went to Mathura to get the illegal occupants evicted from the park.”

Asked to comment on IPS officer Thakur’s remarks against him, the minister said, “All I would like to say is that government officials should keep away from making political statements. After all they must stick to their conduct rules.”

Akhilesh Yadav sought to pin the blame on the laxity of officials, but exuded confidence that the probe by a divisional commissioner would unearth the truth. “No one will be spared and strictest action will be taken against anyone and everyone who is found to be guilty”, he said.

However, not impressed by his assertions was Mayawati, who was the first opposition leader to issue a statement lambasting the ruling dispensation.

"The very fact that this illegal occupation over 280-acre government land was going on blatantly for more than three years and the Samajwadi Party government turned a blind eye to it until a directive to evict them was issued by the high court, arouses suspicion that some high and mighty in the government were extending patronage to the law-offenders", she said in a statement issued here Friday.

State director general of police Javeed Ahmad, who rushed to the site of the incident along with principal home secretary Debashish Panda, refused to be drawn into any controversy.

He, however, did not mince words in stating, "those this were holding illegal occupation of the public land belonged to a self-styled activist body claiming themselves to be fans of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose as also that of a spiritual cult , once led by Late Jai Gurudev. Twenty of the 22 killed in the exchange of fire belonged to that group."

Overtly, the group talked about raising demands to bring down the price of essential commodities, including diesel and petrol, and even demanded a change in the political system in India – typically what Jai Gurudev was often heard raising the pitch for.

However, what Ahmad sought to point out speaks volumes of the ulterior motives of the outfit.  “Considering that they had a stock of firearms and other weapons, which we seized from the their camp, it is evident that the group was into unlawful activities. The fact they were forcibly occupying a government land on which they would not allow even the administration to enter and went to the extent of opening fire on the poilce shows how insolent they had become”, he added.

Even as so much hue and cry has been raised over the issue, it seems unlikely that the Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav (who is seen as a de facto super CM) would allow son Akhilesh Yadav to have a free hand in bringing the guilty to book. 

The impression about him remaining a “majboor” CM may, therefore, continue to grow.

How much this could cost a young CM who was trying hard to recast the party’s sullied image before the state goes to fresh polls in 2017, is anybody’s guess.

Writer

Sharat Pradhan Sharat Pradhan @sharatpradhan21

The writer is a senior journalist and political analyst based in Lucknow.

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