Lucknow/New Delhi: The Uttar Pradesh government on Monday came under severe attack from the opposition, the IAS body and retired bureaucrats over suspension of IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal, who had cracked down on the sand mafia in Greater Noida.
While the state government has justified the suspension saying irregularities were found in Nagpal's work, the opposition has alleged that the IAS officer was targeted because she red-flagged illegal mining rampant in the area.
The state government has claimed that Nagpal's decision to bring down an illegally constructed wall of a mosque in the Khadalpur village had created tension in the area. It further said that the IAS officer didn't have orders to carry out the demolition. But the opposition is insisting that the Samajwadi Party government suspended Nagpal under pressure from the mining mafia.
"What mistake has she made?... It is not understood. But it is felt that she (Durga Shakti Nagpal) was suspended under the influence of the mafia," BJP leader Kalraj Mishra said.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh also alleged on Monday that the sand mafia is running governments in UP and Madhya Pradesh. "Sand Mafia is operating not only under the present government in UP but also under the previous regime. This is the same sand mafia, which is working in Madhya Pradesh. "The sand mafia is running governments in UP and MP," he alleged.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, however, is trying to play down the controversy saying the "suspension order is not up for debate". "I will reach Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday and will review the case then," he added.
Even the villagers of the area, where Nagpal had cracked down on the sand mafia, justified the suspension saying "she is a not a good officer, sand is being mined openly without being checked for years".
The villagers said Nagpal should not have demolished the mosque's wall even if it was illegal because it is a religious place. "We did not take permission but the building of the mosque had everyone's consent," one of the villagers said.
The IAS association members on Monday met officiating Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan and demanded revocation of the suspension. "We went to meet the chief secretary and demanded revocation of the suspension. He said that he will look into it," secretary of the IAS association Parthsarathi Sen Sharma said.
Nagpal, the 2009-batch IAS officer, posted as Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Gautam Budh Nagar in Uttar Pradesh before she was suspended, also accompanied the association members for the meeting.
She had led a crackdown on unauthorised mining in the district and got over two dozen FIRs registered against those involved in illegally removing sand. Special flying squads were formed by her to stop the raging menace along the Yamuna and Hindon rivers in western Uttar Pradesh.
Only last week the officer had asserted that there will be no let-up in the fight against unauthorised dredgers. "The entire district has been affected and illegal mining has become a huge problem. The stakes are too high and those involved get huge monetary returns. The act could lead to serious environmental issues and, therefore, needs to be stopped," she had warned.
Nagpal had led the seizure of 24 dumpers engaged in illegal quarrying last week resulting in the arrest of 15 persons. She came into the spotlight through her no-nonsense, iron-fist approach to stop the illegal operations of the sand mafia in the Noida region. "We are conducting raids on a daily basis on sand mafia and their units. A list of illegal sand mining units has been prepared and action is being taken against them," she had warned.
(With additional information from PTI)