Durga Shakti Nagpal falling victim to Muslim vote bank politics
The Inside Story of An Upright Officer and Greedy Politicians
Dr Shakti Kumar Pandey from Lucknow
There has been an unprecedented public outrage in print, electronic and social media as witnessed never before when Durga Shakti Nagpal was suspended, eroding the credibility and popularity of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav very badly. Government officials too admitted that it is the worst crisis faced by the 17-month-old government after the killing of deputy superintendent of police Zia-ul-Haq in Kunda in March.
However, the story of Durga Shakti Nagpal has many uncovered facts, making it different from what it has come in the media generally. It is not a simple case of illegally constructed wall of a mosque being demolished. It is a case of starting a construction which is purported to be demolished, and thereby carrying out suspension of the officer who was acting lawfully and judiciously, having her way in keeping the law and order intact and in stopping the illegal mining of the area.
The interesting part of the story is that the Congress party, that keeps vying with SP in Muslim appeasement, failed to execute its plan of holding a demonstration in the village the next day in support of the Muslim community whose mosque wall was allegedly demolished by the SDM Durga Shakti Nagpal. The Congress plot had to be thwarted and the message was to be sent that SP cares more for the Muslims. And therefore the concerned office of the Secretariat was opened around July 27 midnight and Nagpal’s suspension letter typed and faxed to the office of the District Magistrate of Gautam Buddh Nagar.
In fact, Durga Nagpal had launched an extensive drive against the illegal quarrying of sand and soil, which is rampant on the Yamuna and Hindon river beds. A month ago, she had got cases registered against more than 20 people involved in illegal quarrying and over 10 had been arrested in less than a fortnight. She also ensured about two dozen JCB machines involved in illegal quarrying were seized. The contractors are known for their alliances with and the high and mighty of the ruling party, including Narendra Bhati. Meanwhile, Nagpal also refused to entertain the SP leader Narendra Bhati’s request of not lodging an FIR against local leader Omendra Khari. Irked over all this, Narendra Bhati made a plan that an illegal mosque can be planned on the government land, which this honest officer would not permit, and order to demolish, which would give him an opportunity to convince Akhilesh Yadav to suspend her. And that is how he wanted to teach her a lesson. Narendra Singh Bhati, who is also the chairman of UP Agro with the status of State Minister, laid the foundation stone on the Gram Sabha land on June 15 and gave Rs 51,000 for the construction of the mosque. He gave the money for construction and told the villagers that there was no need to take permission to build a mosque. Once the villagers built the wall, someone was asked to complain to Nagpal, and she acted in accordance with the law. Once the illegal construction was demolished, they got the information that Congress is planning demonstration the next day. So, fearing that it would boomerang if the Congress leaders staged a protest there, the government hurriedly suspended the SDM, and an order was released in the midnight.
There was good reason for SP’s haste with which the state government acted. It feared that senior Congress leaders would gather in Kadalpur village on July 28 to rake up the demolition of a semi-finished boundary wall of an under-construction mosque. At least a dozen Congress leaders from Delhi and Lucknow were expected to reach the village the day after the wall came down to expose the SP government. Some officers in the administration and police, as well as intelligence personnel, had informed SP leaders that some Congress leaders had held a meeting with the villagers within three hours of the demolition of the wall on July 27 and promised they would call their senior party leaders from Delhi and Lucknow on July 28 to start a movement for the construction of a mosque there.
Thakur Dhirendra Singh was the man behind the Congress plan. He is a local Congress leader, better known as the man on whose motorcycle Rahul rode pillion on May 11, 2011, to Bhatta Parsaul, which had been hit by violent protests against the then BSP government’s land acquisition policy. Singh reached the village soon after the demolition of the wall. A letter sent by him to his party bosses on the same day (July 27) indicates that the Congress was set to attempt to hijack the minority vote bank from the SP by taking up this issue. Sacrificing the mosque in this holy month of Ramzan is a big attack on the religious sentiments of villagers, they thought. He was in Delhi when his people informed me about the incident. Since he contests elections from Jewar, and Kadalpur comes under the same Assembly constituency, he went there and held a meeting with the villagers, 90 per cent of whom are Muslims. Then he prepared a report and sent it to all his seniors in the AICC and UPCC. Thus, it was planned that the Congress would expose the SP on this issue on July 28. This was why the state government acted in haste and made Durga a scapegoat.
Durga informed the UP government that she never ordered demolition of the disputed wall. It was brought down by villagers after her meeting with them. She also stated that there was no unrest in the village when she returned. She also said that she was following the Apex Court order, which has been followed earlier, that no illegal construction should be allowed on government land.
A committee affiliated to UP Sunni Central Waqf Board, which visited the village after the incident, has also stated that the IAS officer had no role in bringing down the wall and had just advised villagers to follow due procedure. Praising Durga, the committee said that she had in fact initiated the process of reclaiming waqf board land, including a graveyard, that had been encroached upon.
The sub-plot is not less interesting, and frightening too. The eminent dalit scholar, Kanval Bharti, was arrested because in his facebook post on this issue, Bharti said it is the ‘will and wish’ of the Urban Development Minister Azam Khan which prevails and not the law of the land. Azam Khan’s PRO Fasahat Ali Khan lodged a complaint and Bharti was arrested. Surprisingly, despite disclosures in the form of reports of the local intelligence unit (LIU), the Distric Magistrate’s report, video footage of SP leader Narendra Bhati bragging of getting Nagpal suspended in 41 minutes and the local police report, all exonerating Nagpal of demolishing the mosque wall, Akhilesh Yadav has refused to budge.