For the residents of Kadalpur, a sleepy village in Gautambudh Nagar, which is at the centre of the controversy surrounding the suspension of Sub-Divisional Magistrate Durga Shakti Nagpal, the IAS officer is no hero.
They allege that she personally supervised the demolition of a mosque wall in the village on July 27 and say her suspension by the Samajwadi Party-led Uttar Pradesh government was justified.
The narrative, currently running in the media, that Ms. Nagpal was suspended at the behest of the illegal sand mining mafia — a lobby Ms. Nagpal had taken head on — has no takers here.
The villagers stress the “highhandedness” of the local administration led by Ms. Nagpal in carrying out the demolition, allegedly without any prior notice. This ostensibly cost the Sub Divisional Magistrate her job.
The mosque was built on gram sabha land without permission from the local administration. The present structure of the mosque, after its main wall and the temporary roof were brought down by the authorities, consists of an elevated land with a tarpaulin roof.
Mohammad Shafique, husband of village pradhan Afroza, however, argues that activities in the region have traditionally adhered to the decisions of the panchayat, which had, in this case, sanctioned the mosque’s construction.
“We are just shocked at the manner in which the entire issue was dealt with. After Ms. Nagpal told us that the structure was illegal and needed to be demolished, we requested her to give us a few days. We did not know that we needed permission to build the mosque. We promised her that we won’t add even a brick to the structure but she had come [resolved] to raze the mosque,” says Mr. Shafique.
Mr. Shafique has another question for Ms. Nagpal. “The boundary for the mosque was built two years ago. And the construction work had been going on for the last two months. If this was such a serious issue and [the demolition could not wait], where was the administration all this while?”
Another elder of the village, Ausaf Mohammad, questions the credibility of the District Magistrate report giving a clean chit to the suspended SDM. “The DM did not come here, neither did he talk to the panchayat people. He has given a wrong report to the government. Why would we demolish our own religious structures?”
Kadalpur, the-Muslim dominated village, has over 30 per cent Hindus.
While Shafique categorically declares that there is no communal aspect to the controversy over demolition of one of the mosque walls, he also highlights the “Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb” as part of the village’s history. “Here Hindus and Muslims come together to build mosque and temples, as was the case with this mosque,” he says.