Those responsible for the murder of Kamlesh Tiwari, who headed a minor Hindu Mahasabha offshoot, at his residence-cum-office in Lucknow on Friday, must be caught at the earliest after careful investigation and put on trial. But due diligence hasn’t been the strong suit of the UP police for a long time. Under chief minister Yogi Adityanath, one of whose first acts as CM of the nation’s most populous state in early 2017, was to have all criminal cases against himself dropped, the idea of justice and of dependable police work, an important aspect of judicial administration, have become conspicuous by their absence. The law and order machinery has been both politicised and communalised.
In the present case, the police acted swiftly, booking culprits from not only UP but also Gujarat, with tracking of suspects also being done in Nagpur in Maharashtra. This is possibly because those booked are from the Muslim community.
This would be in keeping with the record of the Adityanath administration whether we document the fake encounters, the so-called “love jihad” cases that were overly communalised and shown to be fabricated, or of the innocent medical professional Dr Kafeel, who appears to have been framed on account of his faith. The poorer communities among Hindus have also been at the receiving end, as in a high profile case in Mirzapur showed recently, where upper caste men attacked a dalit village and the CM and the police gave no succour to the latter, choosing instead to attack political opponents for highlighting the government’s proclivity for one-sided actions.
In the matter of the murder of Kamlesh Tiwari, members of the Muslim community may indeed have committed the crime. The deceased appears to have been a religious fanatic and had bad-mouthed the Prophet Muhammad in 2015, and distributed pamphlets carrying that dubious message, in the process attracting the ire of most of Muslim society. To track Muslim suspects may, therefore, be legitimate if there is the smallest suspicion. But the UP police and the CM himself have gone to the media in a way that suggests they have solved the case, and some Muslim youth are at the centre of it.
This single-track approach is apt to raise doubts in light of the assertion by the mother of the deceased that a UP BJP leader should be investigated over her son’s killing. Her contention is that there was a dispute between this politico and her son over temple land in a village. It is surprising that the police has not commented on this matter, though the UP police chief himself has chosen to make statements in this case, rather than leave it to the spokesman. This too suggests his readiness to remain in tandem with the CM’s thinking in the case, rather than direct his force to investigate the matter in a fair and impartial manner.