New Delhi: In a recent interview, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he missed critics and lamented that the number of critics is very few and that most people only level allegations and play perception games.
The very next day, Lakhimpur Kheri violence happened. A union minister’s son was accused of mowing down unarmed protesting farmers with his SUV. Eight people were killed including four farmers. Some were reportedly killed by the protesters.
A spine-chilling video of the incident surfaced that stirred the conscience of the entire nation. The opposition even compared it to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. It does not matter whether the comparison was legitimate, but it certainly left an impression on the minds of the people. It has been six days since the incident and people are yet to hear from the Prime Minister.
The opposition hit the streets and the leaders of the largest opposition party, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi along with two sitting chief ministers, Bhupesh Baghel and Charanjit Singh Channi, attempted to meet the families of the victims, only to be ridiculed by UP CM Yogi Adityanath.
It was bad enough how the incident played out, what made it worse was the state’s high-handed response. The state police deployed all their resources at restricting the political leaders in the name of controlling law and order.
What did happen though in the meantime was that the prime accused Ashish Mishra, son of union minister Ajay Mishra Teni, continued to roam free. The UP police said they were too busy dealing with the opposition leaders. Yes, the son of the home minister of India, who is facing a murder charge, has not been arrested yet.
That is not all. The minister, who is in charge of internal security in the country, has so far refused to step down. How is this not impropriety?
A section of media has expressed serious concerns on this issue. They asserted that for the probe to be credible, MoS Ajay Mishra must step down. The popular perception is that the BJP’s top leadership must step in to resolve this issue.
The Supreme Court appeared to be a bit more impatient, as it rapped the UP government and expressed that it was "not satisfied with the steps taken so far by the state government.” The top court minced no words in saying that “the UP government is not proceeding the way it should. It appears only in words and not in action.”
Although CM Yogi Adityanath, while calling the incident sad and tragic, has vowed to punish the guilty, the fact that a person facing charges under IPC 302 among several others including criminal conspiracy and rioting has evaded arrest even days after the incident tells a different tale.
Do the opposition attacks, media appeals and the observations made by the apex court on the matter not qualify as legitimate criticism? Does an incident of this magnitude that involves a member of the union cabinet not deserve a comment from the Prime Minister?
(Views are personal)