Uttar Pradesh’s new police chief Sulkhan Singh took over from Javeed Ahmed yesterday.

Lucknow:  On his first day in the top job, the Uttar Pradesh police chief Sulkhan Singh had a stern message for criminals, politicians breaking the law and cow vigilantes. If they cross the red line, they shouldn’t expect to be spared, he said, vowing to crush goodagardi (lawlessness) in the state.Mr Singh, who replaces Javeed Ahmed, said he had strict orders from Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to crack down on everyone who indulges in criminal activities. “We have been given orders by the Chief Minister not to spare anyone,” he said on Saturday, minutes after he took charge. It won’t matter if the violator belongs to a particular party. “They will be dealt with in the same way as everyone else,” Mr Singh, who replaces Javeed Ahmed, the first major casualty due to the change in government in Uttar Pradesh.

Yogi Adityanath had come to power last month in an election that saw the Bharatiya Janata Party pledging to clean up street crime to an extent that women could travel through the state at midnight without worrying for their safety. Uttar Pradesh has a long way to go to reach such a stage. In the weeks after the saffron-robed Chief Minister took over, the police have also had to deal with vigilante groups targeting people they suspect of smuggling cows for slaughter. This week, a little-known outfit threatened Kashmiris in western Uttar Pradesh to leave the state or face consequences.

“In the name of gau rakshaks or moral policing, no one has a right to intervene. Whoever gets into vigilantism on any pretext with be dealt with sternly,” Mr Singh said, asking people to tip them off if they spot any such activity. “We will not ask you to reveal your identity,” he said.

In a state where criminal-politician nexus is deeply entrenched, Mr Singh reassured his officers that they will have the complete freedom to do their job. “If police officers have anything to be scared of, it is their own conduct. Nothing else,” he said.

But the clean-up will start from within. The police chief announced that all police officers who have stayed in the same place beyond the stipulated period, or those in field postings facing serious complaints would be transferred.

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