Last week, the UP Police chief came out and assured that he will take strict action against his officers who are accused of killing a young Apple manager in Lucknow.
A few days ago, a video surfaced on social media where UP Police personnel in Meerut were seen assaulting and abusing a young girl for befriending a Muslim guy. The police personnel can be heard using derogatory words like “Mulla” to refer to the Muslim man. Later, the girl alleged that the police wanted her to file an FIR against the Muslim, accusing him of rape. In another video related to the same incident, few VHP activists can be seen thrashing the Muslim guy in the presence of a few police officials.
In yet another incident in Lucknow, a cop shot dead a man for not stopping his car when he was asked to. The incident grabbed headlines and became a point of discussion in mainstream media. Later, the accused cop and a few of his colleagues appeared before media and accused the deceased of attempting to kill the police, in reaction to which the cop retaliated by firing.
These two incidents, separated by three days and 360 miles, sums up all that is wrong with the Uttar Pradesh Police, particularly after Yogi Adityanath became the Chief Minister of the state in 2017.
Under the Yogi Adityanath government, the UP police have the power to intervene in private relationships of individuals in public places. The Anti-Romeo squads, which were formed just after few weeks of Yogi’s ascendency to power, took it upon themselves to regulate and decide on the type/nature of interaction people could have in public places. Formed with the objective of tackling the cases of eve-teasing and stalking, the anti-Romeo squads mutated into ‘legal’ moral police, often harassing young people in public places like parks and restaurants. This incident also throws light on the over communalisation of Police forces under the Yogi government. The Meerut incident indicates that instead of safeguarding the constitutional right to personal freedom, UP police is acting as an extension of Bajrang Dal and VHP, who are known for their aggressive Hindutva agenda.
The second incident from Lucknow is a direct fallout of another decision of the Yogi government to grant excessive power to the Uttar Pradesh Police in the name of ‘fighting crime’. Since March 2017, when Yogi-led BJP government came to power, 67 people have been killed in over 1,400 encounters. Over last one and a half year, the ‘encounter policy’ of the Yogi government has created a corps of trigger-happy policemen, who are happy to shoot on mere suspicion. The ‘license to kill’, provided by Yogi Government gives them the impunity to kill and shoot, and later frame up a story-line to justify the shooting. Like in this case, according to the accused cop, the driver of the car (Vivek Tiwari) tried to run over him thrice, and he fired in self-defence (a very common ‘encounter killing’ narrative).
Both these incidents – the harassment of the girl and killing of Vivek Tiwari – are cases of abuse of power by UP police. All the blame goes to the UP government’s policy directive that gave police officials license to kill in the name of fighting crimes.