Uttar Pradesh was still applauding itself over the recently released National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data when Lakhimpur Kheri dual rape-murder hit the state earlier this month.
However, the murder of two Dalit minor sisters was followed by swift action by the UP Police where the six accused were arrested within 48 hours of the crime.
This incident supports the NCRB-2021 data which suggests that Uttar Pradesh is at the top among other states in the country in the number of convictions in crimes related to women.
While the number of incidents of crime against women are almost constant since 2017 with 56,083 in 2021, the number of convictions in such crimes stands at 7,713 in 2021.
The charge sheeting rate of crime against women has gone up from 71.6 per cent in 2017 to 76.5 per cent in 2021, while the pendency rate is down from 21.8 per cent to 17.4 per cent.
The number of annual rape victims went down from 4,669 to 2,845. Also, the number of incidents of murder with rape/gang rape in 2021 is three-fourths of what it was in 2017.
Additional Director General of Police (ADG) Law and Order Prashant Kumar gives credit for this success to the UP Police's strategy of preventive and punitive actions for the safety and security of women.
He told Swarajya about the UP government's flagship campaign 'Mission Shakti Abhiyan' which amalgamates the efforts of 24 departments for creating a conducive ecosystem for the safety dignity and self-reliance of women.
"Our first emphasis is to prevent crime against women through intensified patrolling, increased police presence, and minimum response time of the UP 112 Police Response Vehicle (PRV) on all vulnerable spots to instill a sense of security amongst women," Kumar explains.
He elaborates upon the SOP which says that in case of a sensational crime against women, senior most officers should reach the spot at once and after securing the scene of the crime, all forensic evidence should be collected scientifically. This helps to arrest the accused in the minimum possible time.
However, their job doesn't end here. "After the arrest, the entire focus is on securing a conviction for the criminal through the joint endeavours of police and prosecution," ADG says while highlighting UP's maximum number of convictions in the shortest time at all India level by effective pairvi in courts.
The role of political leadership
Kumar believes that the biggest reason for changing law and order in the state is Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's leadership, vision, clarity of purpose, hardwork and integrity.
He also points towards the fact that there is no change in the approach of Yogi 2.0 from the earlier approach of Yogi 1.0 regime towards law and order. "Establishing a sound law and order and zero tolerance towards crime remained his priority from day one till date," the ADG says.
While, according to the NCRB data, UP stands at 23rd position in terms of the crime rate among states, Kumar likes to see this achievement through public perception and the sense of security which prevails among the common man.
"Any assessment of the situation from Ghaziabad to Gorakhpur will bear witness to it that the common man feels safer in the state as compared to previous regimes," the UP ADG law and order says.
He believes that political will and leadership are the sine-qua-non of a sound law and order and the state of UP is fortunate to have a Chief Minister like Yogi Adityanath.
Kumar talks about a free hand given by the CM to all the officers to work in the public interest. "He (Adityanath) has insulated the Police department from all kinds of political interference which has had a salutary effect on crime control and improving the law and order in the state," ADG adds.
He also explains how the CM’s vision of ‘Zero Tolerance towards crime and corruption’ has been imbibed in letter and spirit to the rank and file of the police.
"The CM has ensured that officers of impeccable integrity are posted in the districts and wherever aberrations are noticed immediate action has been taken against the officer concerned irrespective of rank," Kumar says.
"This has definitely percolated till the Thana level where we have independent feedback from citizens of all walks of life that the interface at the Police Station level has transformed drastically," the ADG talks about the change on the ground.
While political leadership has changed, changing the system is still a challenge. We often come across reports of non-cooperative and abusive behaviour of police personnel.
As remedial measures, the UP Police is planning a series of behavioural workshops for police personnel at the cutting edge level from professional psychologists and behavioural experts.
"We have organised such workshops earlier also for our police personnel and we shall be taking it once again in an institutional way," Kumar informs Swarajya.
To make the police force more approachable, an interactive presence on social media is being maintained. "All kinds of police-related grievances are immediately responded to on social media within 5-8 mins," the ADG says.
After the acknowledgment of the complaint, the complaint is immediately taken up with the district police, and a satisfactory resolution of the citizens' grievances is done. This has solved the approachability issue of the police.
"Quick resolution of the grievances, accountability, and transparency has enabled us to gain the trust of the people and improved the credibility of the department," Kumar proudly says.
However, he acknowledges that corruption is a systemic crisis but cites exemplary punishment given by the department to the policemen indulging in corrupt practices which has acted as a deterrent against corruption.
While a decline in many serious crimes is observed in Uttar Pradesh, drug menace is continuously increasing in the state. The incidents of liquor and narcotics related crimes has increased from 66,734 in 2017 to 1,01,016 in 2021.
To tackle this, UP Police has launched a battle against the drug menace on a war footing. Recently, an ‘abhiyan’ was launched from 24 August till 8 September against the drug mafia, illicit liquor and Hukka bars. Kumar says that this has yielded encouraging results.
Being a communally sensitive state, UP remains a challenge for maintaining law and order situation. However, NCRB data suggests that the incidents of communal riots is down to one in 2021 from 34 in 2017.
"There are clear-cut instructions from the CM that communal elements belonging to any religion who incite people to disturb the law and order of the state shall not be spared and strictest action shall be taken against them," the ADG explains about the deterrence that yielded such result.
However, the "strictest action" is often used by community leaders to fuel a wave of distrust towards the force. "It’s erroneous to view action against any individual from the prism of caste and religion," Kumar says.
He explains that the police has successfully fought this misperception by taking action against criminals and Mafias of all castes and communities which can be empirically verified.
While a lot of data can be cited from the recent NCRB report to explain betterment of law and order situation in the state, the ADG chooses to cite the volume of investment which has taken place in UP.
He says that the most tangible effect of their efforts is that the state is now a preferred destination for investors across the world. "UP has attracted an investment of Rs 3,44,158 crores in the last five years and jumped from rank 14th to second rank in the ease of doing business," he concludes.
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