Time for Akhilesh to read the riot act
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Mathura, Pratapgarh, Bareilly, Lucknow, Ghaziabad and now Faizabad — six riots in seven months, that is the Akhilesh Yadav government's record in maintaining public order. Never before in recent years have so many riots been seen in such a short time in UP. The CM has alleged an attempt to divert people's attention from his government's good work, but has not identified the culprits. However, each time, while contributory factors varied, isolated incidents blew up into anarchy.
The real problem is that in the name of openness — as opposed to Mayawati's tight rule through a clique of select babus — the SP government has, wittingly or unwittingly, ended up encouraging licentiousness. There have been several instances of SP men bullying and attacking officials, and even freeing up people from police custody. Akhilesh is also his own home minister, but there are others who feel free to dictate to police. On August 17, a mob protesting against alleged atrocities on Muslims in Myanmar and Assam went berserk in Lucknow, stoning shops, smashing vehicles, beating up passersby and news photographers, and breaking idols. All this happened barely a few kilometres from the secretariat, and the police just watched.
Clearly, the government's tolerance level for lawlessness is pretty high. So, stray incidents become opportunities for interested elements to play games of one-upmanship, or settle personal and political scores. With parties busy thinking up ways to consolidate their votes ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the government will have more trying times ahead. So far, its obsession has been distributing freebies, obviously to get votes. In the past month, however, the CM has shown the first signs of firmness. He dismissed a minister and the vice-chairman of the Khadi and Village Industries Board for taking the law into their hands. Zero tolerance for law breakers is the only way he can establish his authority, and strike fear among those who engineer riots.
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