Lucknow: Protesters on the streets of Uttar Pradesh have been voicing their anger against the murder of Kunda Circle Officer Zia-ul-Haq. It's a murder which reflects the criminalisation of India's most political state and left the Samajwadi Party government deeply worried.
As it has now acquired a political tone, on Thursday, protesters came out in Muslim influence areas like Lucknow and Aligarh, adding to the political fire.
CM Akhilesh Yadav said, "People are playing politics on this issue. We will give all cooperation to the CBI. I have fulfilled all demands of both the families."
The state's youngest chief minister's anxiety stems from his party's massive victory in 2012, which rode on the back of widespread support from Muslims across Uttar Pradesh. The murdered circle officer being a Muslim had provided fodder for critics to chip away at the support base.
Syed Imam Bukhari, the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, said, "The Muslims of UP voted for Mulayam Singh, not Akhilesh Yadav. If people who did this are not put in jail, people of UP will not spare the government."
Bukhari reflects what is being quietly stated in UP since Akhilesh took over - that the government under Akhilesh is subservient under the party led by Mulayam and ineffective on ground. Akhilesh's decision to take Azam Khan to Pratapgarh post the killing is a reflection of his vote bank worries.
The embattled chief minister is caught between the devil and deep sea, balancing between a protecting a powerful yet controversial minister, and balancing the damage caused by the killing of a senior officer and that too a Muslim, in such a brutal manner, having led the party to power. Akhilesh understands the important of political symbolism in plenty.