While controversial activities of some Samajwadi Party leaders including a few ministers were already raising many questions about the credibility of the one-year old Akhilesh Yadav government, it seems it was now the turn of Uttar Pradesh cops to give the Yadav regime a bad name.
While rampant corruption in the police departmentwas an open secret, the death of a young man, defying an extortion bid by the police in a village of Mathura district on Tuesday, has added to Akhilesh’s embarrassment.
Sure enough, such acts wash away whatever effort the 39-year old chief minister has been making to tame the lumpen element in the ruling party as also to reform the highly indisciplined and corrupt UP police.
What made it worse was the firing opened by the cops after they were mobbed by protesting villagers who literally surrounded the local police station. The firing left five villagers injured out of which two were stated to be critical. A sub inspector also received minor injuries.
Even as top cops of the region were trying to hush up the whole case and dismiss the allegations of police extortion as ‘false and baseless’, eyewitnesses told the media in Shergarh village (about 45 km from Mathura town), “The cops on duty stopped this tractor carrying hay and demanded money without which they threatened to impound the vehicle for ‘overloading’.”
However, when the tractor driver refused to oblige them, they began to beat him and his companion, who jumped out of the tractor.
He was however over-run by a vehicle right behind resulting in his death. The incident infuriated the villagers who sent on rampage and attacked the police station, indulging in violence and arson. While the cops opened fire, an additional contingent was rushed from Mathura to bring the situation under control.
Zonal Inspector General of police Ashutosh Pande told Rediff over telephone, “A magisterial inquiry has already been ordered. Meanwhile, we have suspended four cops, who were prima facie involved in the alleged extortion bid.”
He added, “Any unlawful act by the cops will not be tolerated; we are keeping a strict vigil on similar acts of indiscipline or corruption by men in uniform.”