Communal violence casts a shadow on Uttar Pradesh
Lucknow: Frequent bouts of communal violence in Uttar Pradesh have tarnished Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's election promise to ensure law and order in India's most populous state.
For a regime already facing accusations of poor governance and political flip flops, the Hindu-Muslim clashes in the past five months have left both the communities bitter vis-a-vis the ruling Samajwadi Party.
Some pundits are already warning that the situation is bound to eat into the support base of the Samajwadi Party when the next election is held.
In the last two months alone, as many as six communal riots - though relatively small in nature -have occurred in the state.
The contrast could not be more striking since communal clashes hardly ever took place during the Mayawati regime, barring three minor incidents, during 2007-12.
The towns which have seen Hindu-Muslim violence are Kosi Kalan in Mathura, Faizabad (near Ayodhya), Pratapgarh, Sitapur and Bareilly. In the last place, there have been two rounds of clashes.
Half a dozen people have been killed. Curfew had to be clamped in more than two places for several days at a stretch.
While other political parties are blaming "Muslim appeasement" by the Akhilesh government for the violence, some say the chief minister has failed to lead from the front.
Advocate Subhash Chait of Mainpuri says he had harboured some hopes from the 39-year-old chief minister. He says his hopes have crashed.
"What is Akhilesh doing? We are returning to the forgotten days of curfew and riots... It is a sad situation," he pointed out.
Siddha Nath Pandey, the seniormost criminal lawyer in Etawah, the home district of the Yadav family, is equally bitter.
"For reasons best known the to them,
whenever an SP government comes in power, goondaism grows," the 90-year-old remarked.
Munna, a Muslim supporter of the Samajwadi Party in Mainpuri, party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's Lok Sabha constituency, is equally angry.
"Our hopes have dashed," he said, pointing out that the chief minister did not even stir out of Lucknow after the communal disturbances. Instead, he asked his ministers to go to the sites.
"We are distressed," added Mohammed Talim, a resident of Chowk in Lucknow. He said Muslims were getting disillusioned with the ruling dispensation.
Police officials said the most trivial issues had triggered some of the violence.
These included disputes over use of water by the other community and playing of music, one officer said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party says the root cause for the trouble is the Samajwadi Party.
"Whenever an SP regime takes power, Muslims flex their muscles. Such incidents are a result of muscle flexing," BJP spokesman Vijay Pathak said.
PL Punia, a Congress leader, called the government "non-functional".
BSP leader Swamy Prasad Maurya poured contempt on the Samajwadi Party: "The SP does not know how to rule, they are all busy plundering the state with both hands. Communal harmony has gone for a toss."
Uttar Pradesh was at the heart of India's worst communal divide after a Hindu mob razed the 16th century Babri mosque in Ayodhya in December 1992.
The mosque demolition led to the worst communal clashes across the country after India's independence in 1947.