A woman IAS officer, who had recently taken on the powerful sand mafia in Uttar Pradesh, has been suspended barely six months after she got her first posting in the state.
Durga Shakti Nagpal, the Sub-Divisional magistrate of Greater Noida, was removed after she ordered the demolition of a mosque being built illegally on government land in Greater Noida on Saturday. The state government justified her suspension, claiming that her order to stop the construction of the mosque during the holy month of Ramzan could have created trouble.
"To prevent communal tension and avoid dispute in village, sometimes we have to take such decisions," Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said.
While the government has dubbed it as an "administrative decision", many believe that the move was a result of pressure from the mining mafia.
Ms Nagpal, a 2009-batch IAS officer, had in the last few weeks cracked down on illegal mining in Greater Noida, seizing nearly 300 trolleys of sand from the Yamuna river bed. She also formed special flying squads to check the menace, rampant along the Yamuna and Hindon rivers in western UP.
"We have acted against these people, we face implicit threats," Ms Nagpal had said earlier.
The Opposition immediately attacked the government, alleging that it was trying to shelter the sand mafia.
"It proves that the government was not liking those officers who are leading drives against the mafia... What mistake has she made?" senior BJP leader Kalraj Mishra said.
The suspension order has again put under scanner the Akhilesh Yadav government which has been routinely criticised for failing to deliver on his electoral promise of wiping out lawlessness and introducing transparency in the government's functioning. The latest episode has not really helped its case.