In his first term as UP Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav is seen as promoting communal agenda instead of helping the state's economic turnaround. And that too for narrow, communal, political gains. He has declared that all the Muslim youth in jail, who are ‘innocent,’ would be released. This is a dangerous move.
The Samajwadi Party won the UP election on a shrill communal campaign. Its manifesto read like the wish list of the pre-partition Muslim League. It brought the Imam of the Delhi Jama Masjid to campaign and issue a diktat to the Muslims to vote for the SP. Releasing Muslim terror suspects from jail was one of the poll promises. The others included scholarship for all levels of education, aid for madrasas and other religious schools, government salary to imams, and the list is long. SP’s trump card was 18 per cent reservation for Muslims in jobs.
After coming to power, the SP realised that the reservation promise was not realistic. Hence, according to reports, the party has undertaken a massive PR exercise to convince the Muslim community that in lieu of the promised quota, they would be given other sops. And in this mollifying move, first the high priests of the Muslims are being made happy. Imam Bukhari’s son-in-law is being offered the MLC seat. Zafaryab Jilani, the face of the Babri Masjid Action Committee and the vocal advocate of Muslim Personal Law, seen widely as a hardliner Muslim has been appointed additional Advocate general. For the first time in the history of Uttar Pradesh, a Muslim Javed Usmani, has been appointed Chief Principal Secretary.
In normal course, such appointments would not have seemed amiss or extraordinary. But now, the Samajwadi Party is making it a point to highlight the fact that these are all Muslims and that is the main criteria for their selection.
Under an atmospheric like this, an announcement to release terror suspects assumes an alarming significance. It amounts to giving a veiled warning to the police to think several times before arresting the Muslims. The investigating agencies would come under tremendous pressure. Because they would be working with the pressure of a goad on their ribs.
Think of a scenario if any political party had said that they do not believe in saffron terror and had promised to release all those in jail held under flimsy grounds. Imagine the hue and cry that it would have resulted. Or for that matter, appointing the lawyers who appeared for the Hindi side in the Ram Janmabhoomi case to high judicial positions? Persons like Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and Swami Aseemanand have been in jail for years now on allegations that will not stand scrutiny of law. That is the reason they are not being charge sheeted and the cases are not being pursued in earnest. A few months ago, a national weekly The Week ran a story on its cover on Col. Purohit, which highlighted his total innocence in the case he is being accused of. On the other hand, he was part of the covert anti-terror operation by the government. No one’s conscience was stirred by it. But, for the sake of the minority vote bank, the political parties indulge in competitive cajoling and kowtowing.
Giving colour to terror is a contribution of the UPA. And it is being replicated in the states. The UP government can fast-track cases, appoint extra courts to deal with long-pending cases and complete the process. Those who falsely implicate innocents should be punished also. But the way one goes about it must be transparent and must instill the confidence of the people in the government and the courts. By making political announcements on releasing people in jail, only on the basis of religion, Akhilesh Yadav is giving a licence to the people of one community to do what they want. After all, the government would protect them. A political party lives from election to election, but the governments should not work on that narrow time-scale.