Social activist Nutan Thakur files PIL petition challenging IAS officer’s suspension
Amid protests by the IAS lobby over the suspension of Noida (Sadar) Sub-Divisional Magistrate Durga Shakti Nagpal, a social activist has now sought the court’s intervention. Nutan Thakur on Tuesday filed a public interest litigation petition before the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court challenging the officer’s suspension.
Ms. Nagpal was suspended by the Samajwadi Party government on Saturday after she allegedly carried out the demolishing of a wall of a mosque under construction, in Rabupura in Noida. The government claimed the officer’s action “threatened to disturb communal peace”.
She has been attached to the Uttar Pradesh Board of Revenue at Lucknow. Notwithstanding the official causes given for the officer’s suspension, reports have alleged that Ms. Nagpal paid the price for taking on the powerful sand mafia of Noida and Greater Noida.
The bureaucrat is said to have been suspended after Samajwadi Party leader with the status of a Minister of State Narendra Singh Bhati lodged a complaint over the demolition of the mosque wall. It was alleged that Mr. Bhati and his close relative Virendra Bhati had interests in illegal sand mining along the Yamuna and Hindon rivers in Noida and Greater Noida. However, Mr. Bhati denied the charges and said, talking to reporters in Noida, that he would resign from the party if he and his relative were proved to have been involved in illegal sand-mining activities.
Two days after the lady officer was suspended and a day after the U.P. IAS Association registered its protest with the acting Chief Secretary, Alok Ranjan, there were no indications in official circles here on Tuesday that a sympathetic view would be taken by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. In fact, the Yadav family seems to be divided over the bureaucrat’s suspension. While the Chief Minister has defended the action on “administrative grounds” — to “maintain communal peace” — Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav said in Moradabad on Monday that the inquiry report should be awaited.
In contrast, SP national general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav is reported to have said on Monday that Ms. Nagpal’s suspension should be revoked.
Meanwhile, the sand-mining mafia is reported to be making merry in the aftermath of Ms. Nagpal’s suspension. Sources said sand mining went on with impunity on in the Yamuna bed in Greater Noida on Monday night. The Hindu has also learnt that the Noida Mining Officer, Ashish Kumar, has been transferred to Bulandshahr. Mr. Kumar told The Hindu over the phone from Bulandshahr, where he has joined his new posting, that his transfer orders were issued on July 15 but he was relieved by the Noida (Gautam Buddha Nagar) District Magistrate on July 24. The Noida DM, K. Ravikant Singh, was not available for comment.
According to environmentalists, the Yamuna sand is considered to very good for construction purposes — the reason for the nexus between the mining mafia and realtors in Noida and Greater Noida.
“Sand mining along the Yamuna downstream of Delhi in Noida and Greater Noida has been going on for long as the river’s sand is in greater demand [among] the real estate people,” said Manoj Mishra, convenor of NGO Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan. Mr. Mishra said the mafia had always been active in the region.