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Thursday, October 29, 2020

Opposition noise cannot hide fact: UP government is committed to women’s safety

What we experienced in the wake of the Hathras incident was more shock than a disappointment. The manner in which the entire fake narrative was built to mislead the masses is disappointing and unacceptable.

Written by Sidharth Nath Singh | Updated: October 19, 2020 8:54:25 am
Protests against the Hathras case in Chandigarh (Express photo by Jasbir Malhi)

The safety of women has been the top priority of the Uttar Pradesh government ever since Yogi Adityanath assumed the office as chief minister in 2017. The UP government, under his supervision, has not only taken appropriate steps to protect women from all kinds of crimes but has also ensured strict punishment to the perpetrators so that potential criminals mend their ways. This approach bore results and ensured that UP led the way in controlling rape and other heinous crimes against women.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s report in 2019, the rate of rape cases in UP was 2.8 per one lakh whereas in 2016 and 2017 the rate was around 4.6 to 4.0. In 2019, UP ranked 26th among the total of 36 states and union territories in rape cases. This data is a vindication of the fact that UP is ahead of other states in terms of controlling rape cases.

In the figures in “Crime in India 2018 and 2019” published by the NCRB, UP ranks far behind several other states in terms of registered cases of crimes. In other words, it is ahead of many states in terms of controlling crime. The percentage of registered crimes in UP is 10.92 while the percentage of its population in the country is 16.85. Apart from this, in 2020 (till September) UP has been able to bring about a 42.24 per cent reduction in rape cases and about a 39 per cent reduction in the cases of abduction of women as compared to 2016.

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As compared to 2019, there has been a decrease of 27.32 per cent in the incidents of rape. The accused booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act have been given harsh punishment. As many as five accused have been given the death penalty and 193 accused have been given life imprisonment, while 721 have been awarded other punishments under the POCSO Act.

CM Adityanath’s “zero tolerance” towards crime is showing results. This can be gauged from the fact that according to the crime rate per one lakh population, the national average is 58.8, while UP’s average is below that at 55.7, with Assam being the highest at 166. States like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh also stand above the national average. Further, according to “Crime in India 2019” report, the conviction rate for crimes against women was the highest in UP with 15,579 convictions in 2019, and more than 55 per cent of the cases registered for crimes against women and minors led to the sentencing of the accused, which is a huge deterrent for anti-social elements.

Despite this track record, some political parties and those with an alleged anti-national frame of mind tried to instigate communal and caste-based riots on the pretext of the Hathras incident.

Opinion | Alok Rai writes: To interpret widespread condemnation in Hathras case as evidence of conspiracy requires genius

In a democratic setup, we often come across debates about what should we expect for India — a stable government or a strong Opposition. The answer by any political leader is that we need both.

Yes, we do need a strong Opposition but certainly not like the current lot. Do we need an Opposition which is more inclined towards rumour-mongering, has a pessimistic approach and a destructive mindset and divisive thought process? No.

What we experienced in the wake of the Hathras incident was more shock than a disappointment. The manner in which the entire fake narrative was built to mislead the masses is disappointing and unacceptable. This was, in fact, an exploitation of the emotions of millions of Indians. The political compulsion and desperation of the Opposition can be understood but an attempt to pollute the psyche of the masses was nothing short of a crime.

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A good government is expected to take prompt action in cases of crime against women. This was done in the Hathras case. An FIR was lodged promptly and subsequent action was also taken and senior district officials supervised the entire probe. CM Adityanath has already issued directives to act swiftly in cases related to women. In this case, too, he immediately set up a Special Investigation Team to probe the incident and later recommended a CBI probe to ensure justice. Now, since the case has been referred for a higher probe and is pending in court, the truth will come out soon. But it is also imperative to expose the evil designs of some individuals who have a vested interest in disturbing law and order in the state.

After having spent many years in public life, I find no parallel to the acts of irresponsibility that the Opposition resorted to in the Hathras incident. Besides their attempt to spur communal flare-up, and caste-based riots, the irresponsible approach shown by the Opposition is deplorable. The deliberate attempt to create a totally wrong perception about any ideology, belief or thought process is dishonesty if not blasphemy vis-à-vis the wisdom of the people of this country.

As an age-old dictum says, “Falsehood is invariably the child of fear in one form or another.” This signifies the state of mind of the Opposition.

A piece of advice to the Opposition — be positive and work for the best interest of the people, if not the government in power. Also remember, among the other duties of the government, one is to insulate the people from false propaganda and thwart the threat of nefarious rumour-mongering.

This article first appeared in the print edition on October 19 under the title “Numbers don’t lie”. The writer is Cabinet minister in the Uttar Pradesh government

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