IAS officer Durga’s suspension: Sonia Gandhi asks PM to intervene

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Durga-Shakti-NagpalNew Delhi: UPA chairperson and Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Saturday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him to intervene in the case of IAS office Durga Shakti Nagpal’s suspension, sources said. Sonia reportedly told the Prime Minister that though the matter is between the Uttar Pradesh government and the IAS officer, the Centre should see how it can intervene in the issue.

The UPA chairperson’s letter comes two days after the IAS Officers’ Association met Minister of State in PMO V Narayanasamy.

The IAS officer’s suspension issue is likely to rock Parliament in the Monsoon Session, which begins on Monday. The Left Front on Saturday demanded that the issue should be taken up in the Monsoon Session. “This victimisation of an IAS officer should find a place in Parliament. The UP government should respond on this. If action is not taken, then a wrong message will go to the honest officers,” CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said.

Meanwhile, the Samajwadi Party has denied reports that a team has been set up to look into Durga’s suspension and the possible involvement of SP leader Narendra Bhati, who had boasted on camera on Friday that he had spoken to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and had Durga suspended within 40 minutes.

As the Uttar Pradesh government stands by Durga’s suspension, a Supreme Court order on illegal religious structures passed in 2009 suggests that suspended IAS officer Durga Nagpal acted strictly according to procedure and violated no rules.

In December 2009, the court ruled that no new temples, mosques, churches and gurdwaras can be constructed on public parks, public streets and public spaces. Demanding strict compliance, the court said any breach of the order would be viewed seriously by the court. Further, the Supreme Court had said that the ban must be enforced even if it gave rise to a law and order problem.
The IAS association feels Durga was suspended for taking on the sand mafia, but the state government has denied such allegations, maintaining her suspension was in the interest of maintaining communal harmony.

Durga Shakti Nagpal met Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Jawed Usmani on Friday to plead her case, alleging the UP government is targeting officers who are cracking down on sand mafia. She also met Secretary to the Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Anita Singh, at Lal Bahadur Shastri Bhawan, official sources said.

Durga Nagpal had a meeting with Secretary to the CM, Anita Singh for almost an hour and put her side of story, but the exact details of the meeting were not known, they said.

In a boost to the suspended officer, the Allahabad High Court has also admitted a plea against her suspension. The court has issued a notice to the UP govt asking them what action they have taken against the sand mafia.

Earlier on Friday, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari criticised the suspension of Durga Shakti Nagpal by the Uttar Pradesh government, saying that officers who fight to uphold the law should be “saluted”. Speaking to CNN-IBN, he said, “Officers who try and correct aberrations should be saluted. They should not be suspended. Unfortunately there are various versions of why the Uttar Pradesh government decided to take such action. I believe the Ministry of Personnel has asked for a report from the state government. That is what V Narayanasamy said on Thursday. So, once that report is out, and they apply their mind to it, they would come up with a structured response.”

The Samajwadi Party has come under criticism for its action against Durga. SP leader Narendra Bhati was caught boasting on camera that he spoke to Akhilesh Yadav and had Durga suspended within 40 minutes.

A 2010-batch IAS officer, Nagpal was served the suspension order on July 27 ostensibly for demolishing the wall of a mosque. UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Friday stoutly defended Nagpal’s suspension, saying her action to demolish the wall of a religious place had “vitiated” communal harmony. He also clarified that there was no connection between sand mining and government’s action against her.

Nagpal’s suspension, opposition parties alleged, was done under pressure of the “mining mafia”, a charge denied by the state government. Nagpal had launched a crackdown on the “mining mafia” in Gautam Buddha Nagar in Noida and was in the news for curbing illegal mining activities in the district by getting over two dozen FIR registered against those involved in illegal sand mining. Special flying squads were formed by the officer to stop the raging menace along Yamuna and Hindon rivers in Western UP.