Why did Priyanka Gandhi’s comment on crime in UP get so many official responses?

The Congress leader posted a graphic on Uttar Pradesh’s 48 hr crime tally, 14 major police stations responded with updates

Image Courtesy:thehindu.com

It is the sad truth that most of the Indian mainstream media is either too wary, or too loyal to ask tough or even slightly difficult questions from the political powers that be. However, the irony is that they do ask most of those questions and demand answers from the political party that is out of power at the Centre. And it gets even better, even tougher questions are now being asked of members of that political party who do not hold any position in any elected body. However this one is not about questions.

This one is about answers. Recently, as a spate of crimes, including rapes and murders, have been reported from Uttar Pradesh, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi, who is in charge of parts of Uttar Pradesh for her party, had expressed concern over the situation. 

She had  shared a graphic that  she called a ‘crime meter’ to illustrate the massive number of crimes reported in the state over just two days. She listed crimes reported on Sunday, August 23, and Monday, August 24 in a tweet early on August 25. Most crimes listed were heinous, including murder, rape, kidnapping etc. The tweet went viral.


Soon replies started pouring in, as expected from both supporters, and critics, and plenty of right-wing trolls doing their daily job as always… replies in the form of posts on Twitter, in response to Gandhi’s ‘allegations’ that the crime rate in Uttar Pradesh was rising fast. This was expected. However what happened next was surprising. Gandhi must have touched a raw nerve somewhere, because in a couple of hours official replies from various Uttar Pradesh police stations’ Twitter accounts started responding, in quick succession.  

She had accused that the state government was ‘covering up’ the incidents of crime, but crime itself was dancing the ‘tandava’ on UP’s streets. Implying that things were getting out of hands. 

It was interesting to see how the several UP Police Twitter accounts started sharing details of what stage the investigations were at, in each case of crime registered across the state. Detailed replies at that.

But what made them react in such a coordinated manner, that too to a politician who does not represent any constituency in Uttar Pradesh, at any level of state or central governments? Yet, 14 police stations responded, with official details and procedural status of investigation, of crimes under investigation. Thus, recognising and validating Gandhi’s point that all those crimes had taken place in the state in just two days, and that the crime situation was indeed worrisome. 

However, according to the right-wing blog Opindia, it was Uttar Pradesh Police’s way to ask Priyanka Gandhi to perhaps rethink her allegations and instead “dwell upon the cause and action” in the context of crimes that occurred in the state over two days. The UP police’s official reply to Gandhi stated, “With reference to the events mentioned on Sunday and Monday in Uttar Pradesh #UPPolice It is also important to know the cause of action and incident. It is also important to note that Uttar Pradesh is the largest state in the country from the point of view of population and a population of about 24 crore lives here.”


Of course, detailed case by case replies came from Varanasi Police, stating that the complaint had been registered and legal proceedings will be done etc. 


Similar replies followed, in random order perhaps, from official Twitter handles of Bareilly Police, Ballia Police, Barabanki Police, Bijnor Police, Fatehpur Police, Muzaffarnagar Police, Prayagraj Police, Baghpat Police, Unnao Police, Ghaziabad Police, Jaunpur Police, Mirzapur Police, Kaushambi Police, Khushinagar police. Most aprising of case updates, including arrests if any, and ending with an assurance that investigations were on. 



While right-wing followers see this UP police countering an ‘allegation’ from a Congress politician, it is interesting to note that the official replies have not refuted the fact that a number of crimes has happened in a short period of time. 

Meanwhile, Priyanka Gandhi on her part, has taken the matter to the next level. She has now written to Uttar Pradesh governor Anandiben Patel expressing concern over the law and order situation, highlighting the lack of safety for women  in the state. She also posted this on social media on Wednesday.  Priyanka Gandhi wrote: “Your Excellency the Governor, Uttar Pradesh. The situation of women safety in UP has become very bad. A girl from Lakhimpur was going to fill the online form. She was raped and brutally murdered. This is happening daily in UP now.  Hope you understand its seriousness and take it into consideration.”


As Priyanka Gandhi had stated the example of the brutal rape and murder of a young girl from Lakhimpur, and claimed that such crimes were happening frequently in the state, the area police replied.Twice.


Perhaps this is Priyanka Gandhi’s way to take a dip-stick poll on how seriously her word is taken in Uttar Pradesh, before she takes the electoral plunge? If the answer is yes, then clearly she is seen as a politician with influence over the vote bank. If she is not going to contest election, then it is a signal to perhaps her own party colleagues, that she is to be seen as a politically savvy, powerful force to reckon with. Either way, an impact has been made, and noted.


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