Lucknow, April 2 (IANS) Even as the Uttar Pradesh government of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav claims in big newspaper advertisements that it has brought about rapid improvement in the law and order situation in the state during its rule, 42 murders in three months, 20 major robberies, a bank heist that left three people dead has led to many here calling Lucknow not only the adminstrative capital but the "crime capital" of Uttar Pradesh.
While police officials admit that serious policing has been hit hard in the city, Lucknow's Senior Superintendent of Police Yashaswi Yadav insists that the law and order situation has actually improved. Inspector General of Police Zaki Ahmed admits to a spurt in crime in Lucknow, but says "serious efforts are on to check them".
Other police officers say that notwithstanding the crime graph, Yashaswi Yadav remains a favourite of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
While poor law and order has been the Achilles' heel for the Samajwadi Party government in the past three years, the sudden spurt in crime in the capital has shocked even the most loyal government supporters.
Police have failed to crack many cases and to meet deadlines set by the chief minister to bring the situation under control.
A senior police official here told IANS that "serious policing has gone for a toss" in Lucknow and "all that is happening is an eyewash".
Insiders in the police department accuse Yashaswi Yadav of browbeating some of his colleagues and breaking the hierarchy.
"The result is there for everyone to see," lamented one official.
Records show that there have also been 30 attempts to murder, ATMs have been robbed of crores of rupees and 125 thefts have taken place, besides many other crimes.
Since Tuesday alone, a headless body was found in a drain near the office of the director general of police, a semi-naked body was recovered elsewhere and a state secretariat employee was shot at.
Under similar conditions, senior policemen have been normally shunted out or suspended. But Yashaswi Yadav has come out unscathed.
The officer, however, rebuts charges of soaring crime. "Except in the case of murders, crimes under various heads have come down," Yadav told IANS.
"Most major cases have been worked out and in the ones that have not yet been, we are in the right direction," he added.
"We are on the right track, law and order has improved and the traffic scene in the city is much better than before. As a professional, I take immense satisfaction on all these achievements," Yadav said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party are not impressed by Yadav's defence.
"The chief minister is turning a blind eye to the declining standards of policing to patronize his pet officials," said Vijay Bahadur Pathak, the BJP spokesman.
"This is a great disservice to the people of the state," Pathak added.
BSP's Swamy Prasad Maurya, leader of the opposition in the state assembly, is scathing in his attack. The situation, he says, is "chaotic and criminals are running berserk" in Lucknow