Do you think that the Muzaffarnagar riots could have been prevented?
Yes, absolutely. Communal riots are preventable. The UP government has failed miserably. It has promoted ‘jungle raj’. Why did there have to be a situation where the army had to be called in? It is a spark that starts off the fire and the police forces are like fire extinguishers. If politicians need to start a communal riot to win votes, then the situation is very bad. Even in that case, they can be prevented with a strong bureaucracy. The IPS and IAS leadership needs to be questioned. There are clear directions in the police manual on the steps to be taken in a sensitive situation.
What are they so scared of? An officer should have the courage to say no. He can send it in writing and he will get legal protection. The police forces aren’t ambassadors of politicians. They can and need to stand up and say no to unlawful orders that are being issued. There are 29 DGPs in the country. All of them should come forward with a strengthened resolve and say no to unlawful orders.
All of us watched what happened in horror. In a situation where there has been clear administrative failure, President’s rule should have been imposed. The reasons are fairly obvious and there is remarkable evidence in the media for them to be out of the system.
Evidence in the media clearly points to Azam Khan’s role in asking the police to go slow. Do you think he should step down?
If they have the conscience to step down, they should. Where is the civil society of Uttar Pradesh? Where are the bar councils? They should be the ones mounting pressure on those who are responsible to step down.
What do you think is keeping the bureaucracy from sticking to its guns?
Selfish interests, rampant corruption and political influences are the reasons we see such abuse of law. There is a need for a change in the mindset of the bureaucracy as well as need for police reforms. The police needs to show individual courage and should be insulated from the influence of political parties. If the police itself is acting upon unlawful orders, then it is not the rule of law, it is an abuse of the law. The IPS and IAS leadership is the common man’s first and last resort for protection and they must stick to their guns no matter what the top political leadership says.