Lucknow: The ruling Samajwadi Party`s decision to withdraw cases against terror accused and slap cases against police officers, apparently to appease Muslim voters in Uttar Pradesh, would play havoc with the morale of the police, serving and former officers say.
"Who will work to nab terrorists after this? If vote bank politics is allowed to continue like this, no sane cop will put himself in danger in the line of duty," a senior officer of the Uttar Pradesh Police`s anti-terrorist squad said.
He cited the state government`s recent decisions to withdraw cases against 15 terror accused, refer local cases to the Central Bureau of Intelligence (CBI) and slap cases of conspiracy and murder against 42 police officer, including a retired director general of police (DGP).
For the record, all that the government will say is that the cases are being withdrawn to maintain communal harmony and promoting public welfare. Officers say it is worrying that cases are being withdrawn without any re-investigation or following procedures.
"I am shocked at the way this government is functioning. How can you slap cases on a departmental head like a DGP? And that too, after three years of his retirement for something which happened recently," former DGP of Uttar Pradesh KL Gupta said.
Terming the decision as "nothing but vote bank politics", Gupta warned that it would affect the spirit of hard working and well-meaning police officers.
Uttar Pradesh sends the largest number of MPs - 80 - to the Lok Sabha. General elections are due in April-May, 2014. The Samajwadi Party had promised in its manifesto for the 2012 Assembly elections that all "innocent" people in jail would be released but so far has only moved on those accused of terror.
The Assembly elections had seen the Samajwadi Party storming back to power, winning 224 of the 403 seats in the house.
A first information report (FIR) was lodged against 42 police officers, including former DGP Vikram Singh, for conspiring to kill Khalid Mujahid, an accused in the serial blasts of 2007.
Khalid died last week while he was being brought back from a court in Faizabad, about 120 km from here, to a prison in the state capital Lucknow where he was lodged. "I am proud of the fact that under my directions Khalid was arrested. Evidence is there that he was a terrorist," Vikram Singh told a news agency.
Admitting that such cases would have an adverse effect on the morale of the state police, he said: "In the line of duty, even if one faces 10 such cases to save the country from the scourge of terror, so be it."
Serving officers, too, said it was very unfortunate that such decisions were being taken by the political executive. "Our tongues are tied as we are in office. But the developments are sad," said a senior police officer who did not wish to be identified.
While the state government has referred the probe into Khalid`s death to the CBI, officers named in the FIR said it would "expose the government". Other than this, the state government Tuesday asked its law officers to coordinate with the district authorities on withdrawing cases against 16 of the 29 terror accused in prisons in the state.
Social activist Nutan Thakur told a news agency that the state government move was "ominous and dangerous for the country`s security." Once the matter is in court, the law should be allowed to take its own course, she said, adding the withdrawal of cases would not only undermine the police`s fight against terror but would also polarize the society.
Home Secretary RN Upadhyaya said that the 16 people against whom the cases will be withdrawn include Taiq Kasmi, Ahmad Hasan aka Babu, Shamim Ahmad, Khalid Mujahid (now dead), Javed alias Guddu, Taj Mohammad, Maksood, Arshad, Sitara Begum, Imtiaz Ali, Mohd Kalim Akhtar, Mohd Yakub and Nasir Hussain. One of the accused, Mirza Shadab Beg, is absconding.
Meanwhile, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has not lost the opportunity to hit back at the government.
"We have been saying this all through, and now it is quite clear that the Akhilesh Yadav government is out to appease the minorities even if it means subjugating law and hitting the morale of the police, which is already bullied by its (SP`s) party workers," BJP state spokesperson Vijay Bahadur Pathak said.
He added that the chief minister has himself admitted that the reason for Khalid`s death appears to be illness. "With its ratings slipping in the public, this government is working at cross purposes in order to keep its Muslim vote bank intact," Pathak added.
Muslims make up 22 percent of Uttar Pradesh`s 20 crore population