The Samajwadi Party may brazenly declare that their decision to suspend Durga Shakti Nagpal was based on the lofty principles of secularism and religious harmony, but more and more evidence that it was anything but, is coming to light.
“If the communal harmony in the state is going to be affected, we have to take action,” UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Lucknow. He added that a Muslim family had built a wall which had been demolished due to the orders of the IAS official, "which was not fair".
PWD minister and uncle of the Chief Minister Shivpal Yadav also tried to say that if they had not intervened then there would have been riots in the state. "The owner of the land where mosque was built had no problem, still the SDM got it demolished. There would have been riots if we did not act," Yadav said.
The almost insultingly flimsy defences offered by the party have been contradicted by the Gautum Budh Nagar police in the area who insist that there was no communal tension, and the district magistrate who has said she did no wrong. And although neither of these reasons have swayed the party till now, could this video of Samajwadi Party leader Narendra Bhati boasting of how he 'got rid' of the IAS officer in just 40 minutes change their minds?
"I spoke to Mulayam Singh Yadav at 10.30 pm And then I spoke to Akhilesh Yadav and at exactly 11.11 pm the suspension order of the SDM was received at the Collector's office. This is the power of democracy," Bhati says in the video, which was captured at a rally in Greater Noida.
"I want to tell you, the lady who behaved in such an uncouth manner (behoodagi), could not stay for 40 minutes. Between 10:30 and 11:11 pm in a span of 41 minutes, her suspension order was typed in Lucknow and reached the Collector here, and that lady came to know at 11:11 pm that she had been suspended. If someone does good work in a democracy then the person must be thanked. But if some one is caught in wrongdoing then he or she should be removed. This is the tradition of democracy. This is the greatness of democracy. Democracy will remain alive because of this," he said.
Bhati's self avowed status as an upholder of democracy and righter of wrongs have been punctured by several reports however, that claim his actions were motivated by his close links to sand mafia leader Omendra Khari.
According to this report in the Hindustan Times:
A Greater Noida official who knows how Nagpal’s actions were hurting Bhati have a different side of the story.
A month back, she reportedly refused to entertain his request of not lodging an FIR against local leader Omendra Khari. Khari, said to be close to Bhati, had allegedly backed out after winning an auction of seized sand by authorities worth Rs. 8 crore.
“Bhati planned this mosque plot, and trapped Nagpal,” said an official who did not want to be named. “He gave the money and told villagers there was no need to take permission to build a mosque. Once the villagers built the wall, someone complained to Nagpal, who acted in accordance with the law.”
Speaking to NDTV however, the Samajwadi Party leader, said he didn't know what time Nagpal was suspended and that he got to know about it from the media.
As this report in Firstpost notes, after being posted at Gautam Buddha Nagar – her first posting – 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. She had also threatened that there would be no let-up in the fight against unauthorized dredgers.
The contractors are known for their alliances with and the high and mighty of the ruling parties, irrespective of who was in power. (Read more here)
Despite the overwhelming evidence that she has been utterly wronged, however, the chances of Nagpal getting justice are slim.
As this Firstpost report noted, she has not got any support from from the top bureaucracy in either Uttar Pradesh and in New Delhi marking a new low in " a long process of the subversion of bureaucracy". The UPA government has asked for a probe into Nagpal's suspension but has vowed that their decision, if any, would not be based on 'emotion' and 'media reports'. Given the UPA government's dependence on the Samajwadi Party in Parliament, it is unlikely that the government will want to anger them.
Given that the all important food security bill is up for discussion in the upcoming monsoon session, the UPA will probably take the more politically convenient path of throwing Nagpal under the bus.