Lucknow: The almost a y ear-old BJP government in Uttar Pradesh is pulling out all stops to make the UP Investors Meet a grand success with the hope to bring in investments of Rs 1 lakh crore (about $15 billion).
Among the biggies attending the event include Mukesh Ambani, Anand Mahindra and Gautam Adani.
Yogi Adityanath's government is working overtime to roll out the red carpet for industry captains and investors at the two-day meet, and the administration is taking special pride in showcasing a state that is not only India's most populous but free of organised crime.
The perception about the police and criminal activities in the state has changed, points out a visibly pleased Additional Director General (Law and Order) Anand Kumar.
"We have clear-cut directives from the government that rule of law has to prevail and that criminals cannot be allowed to have a free run," Kumar told IANS while pointing out that the tough stand of the state government and the "proactive actions" by the police have instilled fear in criminals -- so much so that many have either left the state or have surrendered.
"The message is clear -- people of the state will be given safety and security at all costs and the criminal element will not be spared," Kumar added.
He talked about the "mad scamper among criminals" following several gun fights -- which many have alleged were staged extrajudicial killings -- with police in which over 40 hardened criminals have been "sent to the other world" and many more are languishing in the state's overcrowded prisons.
Senior police officials point out instances where criminals in Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Bulandshahr and many other places have driven to the police stations volunteering to surrender and "atone for their crimes and sins".
"These are certainly good morale-boosters for us, and indicates that the crackdown on criminals is now showing results," says a top official in the Home Department who recalled how a similar free hand was given to the force during the first stint of Kalyan Singh (now Rajasthan governor) in the 1990s.
It does appear that because of the sustained action against criminals the "guns have suddenly fallen silent in the state capital" which, not so long ago, was struck by a series of brazen crimes. Old timers in Uttar Pradesh Police concede that this time round the government has "recognised the importance of good law and order if the moolah was to come to the state".
"All investment talk and tourism potential like things appear to be a farce if there is soaring crime and overt and covert criminal activity," said an intelligence official who pointed out that it was for the first time that the Special Task Force (STF) is being used to "assure industrialists that even an organised crime force like extortionists were being watched".
Only last week, in a first-of-its-kind initiative, senior officials led by ADG Anand Kumar and IG (STF) Amitabh Yash met more than 400 industrialists in Noida to "hear and be heard". An industrialist present at the meeting appeared appreciative of the "your safety, our responsibility effort of the cops". Officials behind the Investors' Meet admit that the "return of the rule of law to a large extent" has cheered the industry and that many prospective investors have communicated this to the state's political leadership.
No wonder 900 MoUs have been already inked between the government of Uttar Pradesh and the investors and they will change hands on Wednesday in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a galaxy of state and Union ministers. The Chief Minister's dinner invite for top business honchos has already been accepted by over 200 CEOs of national and international business houses.
But, this time, some credit is going to the police as well, beyond what they have been getting in the past - for maintaining security and managing traffic during such events.