Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav admitted in March 2013 that as many as 27 incidents of communal violence had occurred since the Samajwadi Party (SP) came to power in the state.
The UP government has constituted enquiry committees headed by IAS and IPS officers to investigate the cases. Home Department sources claimed that most of the reports had been submitted to the state government. After every incident, the CM announced that the guilty wouldn’t be spared and and that district magistrates and superintendents of police would be held responsible. However, no action has so far been initiated against any of the bureaucrats who were transferred after the incidents of communal violence.
“The UP government isn’t doing anything new. This country is running on the time-tested system where no action is taken. Committees and commissions are appointed, which ultimately helps the culprits and the officers guilty of the outbreak of communal violence,” said JS Ghungesh, retired Director General of Police (DGP), Uttar Pradesh.
Retired DGP of UP, KL Gupta said, “Announcement of probes, be it judicial or by a senior government official; inquiries; transfers and suspension of the officials after the communal violence are only a fire-fighting measure to calm down the inflamed passions of people in riot-affected areas. The government knows that people’s memory is short, so as soon as the dust settles downs after the riot, it’s business as usual for government officials and the people. The withdrawal of the criminal cases registered during the communal riots without seeking the opinion of the district administration and the police is the most disturbing trend in UP. Cases are often withdrawn under votebank compulsions of the ruling party.”
Below are some of the major communal riots that occurred during the SP regime:
FAIZABAD, OCTOBER 2012
The simultaneous riots in five towns of Faizabad district were the most disgraceful as this district had remained free from violence even during the Ram temple movement and the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992. On 28 September 2012, idols of Durga were stolen from a local temple, after which people formed a committee to spearhead the agitation against the district police. Soon the BJP took over the movement and the party MP from Gorakhpur, Mahant Adityanath visited the city. On 22 October, the day of the immersion of Durga idols following Durga Puja, the district was rocked by communal violence. Shops were looted and torched in the main market of Faizabad, Rudauli, Sohawal, Bhadarsa and Harringtonganj. Next day the Ramlila pandaal was torched in Faizabad city.
The charge of discrimination on communal lines was levelled against the district administration. The government, as usual, transferred the DM and SSP and offered compensation to shopkeepers whose shops were looted and burnt. Cases were filed and arrests were made, but nothing has come out of it.
GHAZIABAD, SEPTEMBER 2012
Seven Muslim youth were shot dead by the police after an unruly mob attacked the Masuri police station in Ghaziabad. The mob was protesting against the alleged desecration of the Koran after the torn pages of the book were recovered from near a railway track. The local people wanted the police to take action, but the police ignored the demand, which infuriated them. Following the incident, the government announced compensation for the families of the dead.
BAREILLY, JULY 2012
Communal riots occurred in Bareilly on the first day of fasting during the holy month of Ramzaan on 22 July. Three perople were killed in the riots that started when some Muslims objected to the loud music played by kanwariyas in front of the mosque where they were offering prayers after the day-long fast. The police was taken off guard as the clashes broke out simultaneously at ten places in Bareilly city. Curfew was imposed in almost the entire city and lasted for over two weeks. Even as the city was limping back to normalcy, the police permitted a religious procession of the Hindu community, which was attacked and fired upon. The situation worsened again and it took over a month to restore normalcy in the city. Over 100 people were arrested, but they were later bailed out. The district police has no information about the number of cases in which chargesheets were filed in courts.
KOSI KALAN, MATHURA, JUNE 2012
Five people were killed and over two dozen injured in the communal violence in the region. Over 25 shops were looted and set on fire. The government immediately transferred both the DM and SSP of the district. Police discrimination on communal lines, as seen in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli, was the key reason for the long spell of communal tension in the town. The traders observed a bandh for over a month, alleging that the police protected the guilty from the minority community and lodged cases against them for inciting violence. Named FIRs were lodged by the police against 500 people and all were arrested and sent to jail.
The riot caused a political controversy as the police had also booked the former BSP minister Chaudhary Lakshmi Naryan, his brother BSP MLC Chaudhary Lekhraj Singh, his son and others under the charges of murder, dacoity and abduction. The people arrested were later released on bail and the enquiry by the district police is still going on.
ASTHAN, PRATAPGARH DISTRICT, MAY 2012
This was the first major incident of communal violence during the Akhilesh Yadav government. The violence erupted in Asthan, a Muslim dominated village, after a girl of the Dalit community was allegedly gangraped. Close to four dozen houses of the minority weaver community were looted and torched. Those accused of the rape were arrested and sent to jail. After the violence, the police arrested over a dozen arsonists. As per the established tradition in UP, both the District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police were transferred. A former minister and independent MLA from Kunda in Pratapgarh district were allegedly behind the violence. Since most of the weavers of the village were settled in Maharashtra and had come to their native village for the marriage of their sons and daughters, the SP drafted its Maharashtra leader, Abu Asim Azmi (SP MLA from Bhiwandi) to go there and help in providing relief and rehabilitation to the victims. The cases against the arson and rape-accused are pending in the district court.