Decision taken to prevent communal tension: CM
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav defended the suspension of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (Sadar) of Gautam Buddha Nagar, Durga Shakti Nagpal, on administrative grounds to “prevent communal tension,” but the U.P. IAS Association has reacted strongly to the action taken against the 2009 batch bureaucrat.
A delegation of the Association led by its Secretary, Parthasarathy Sen Sharma, met the acting Chief Secretary, Alok Ranjan, on Monday and demanded that the officer’s suspension be revoked.
Stating that the suspension was against the rules, the IAS delegation asked Mr. Ranjan that a high-level inquiry should be constituted to look into the charges levelled against the officer.
Mr. Ranjan later said that he will take up the issue with the Chief Minister and convey the IAS Association’s request to him. Mr. Yadav is in Bangalore with his father and Samajwadi Party president, Mulayam Singh.
The officer’s suspension has snowballed into a major controversy with the Akhilesh Yadav government under fire from Opposition parties, netizens and now the IAS Association. Ms. Nagpal was ostensibly suspended for taking on the powerful and politically well connected sand mafia operating along the Yamuna and Hindon rivers in Greater Noida. It is alleged that a ruling party leader of Gautam Buddha Nagar having links with the sand mafia was instrumental in getting her suspended. As SDM (Sadar) of Noida, Ms. Nagpal had almost single-handedly taken the sand mafia head on and had reportedly seized 30 dumpers and registered about two dozen FIRs against illegal mining. The mining contractors, who virtually call the shots in Noida and Greater Noida, were on the run.
The official version, confirmed by the government at around midnight on Sunday, is that the 28-year old officer was suspended on Saturday for “disturbing communal peace.”
A government spokesman said that the “Gautam Buddha Nagar SDM, Durga Shakti Nagpal was suspended on Saturday for ordering the removal of a wall of an under-construction mosque in Kadalpura village under Rabupura police station area in Gautam Buddha Nagar district on July 27, 2013 without following the legal procedure, which threatened to disturb communal peace.” Ms. Nagpal has been attached to the office of the UP Board of Revenue at Lucknow, the spokesman added.
Sources told The Hindu that the government initially tried to keep the officer’s suspension under wraps, but, when the news broke out, a section of the State’s bureaucracy questioned the move as they were certain that the SDM had been punished for leading a campaign against the sand mafia. With the Chief Minister away in Bengaluru, officials in the Chief Minister’s office and the Appointment and Personnel Department remained undecided on giving an official confirmation of the suspension until Sunday night.
In Bangalore, Akhilesh Yadav told reporters: “There are many such incidents where there is a chance of communal tension erupting, it becomes necessary to take certain administrative decisions to prevent it. When we don’t take any decision, you (the media) complain of our indecision and if we take, you say it is a harsh decision,” the Chief Minister said.
Meanwhile, the Opposition parties have slammed the move. The workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) staged a protest at the District Collectorate in Noida (Gautam Buddha Nagar). Condemning the move to suspend an honest officer, the State Secretary of Communist Party of India (CPI), Girish, demanded that the suspension be revoked with immediate effect.
Originally belonging to the Punjab cadre of the IAS, Ms. Nagpal shifted to Uttar Pradesh in 2012. She was posted as SDM (Sadar) in Gautam Buddha Nagar in September 2012. This was her first posting in the State.