Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Durga Shakti Nagpal Story - Why Honest Officers Must Be Protected or The Story of a Spineless System

I was intrigued when I read the story of Durga Shakti Nagpal, the young IAS officer, holding the post of sub-divisional magistrate from Greater Noida who was suspended (within 41 minutes according to a well broadcast brag by a senior Samajwadi Party leader Narendra Bhati) for allegedly causing a situation that could have led to communal riots. The SDMs act of breaking down a wall of  mosque, felt the young UP CM Akhilesh Yadav, who first ordered and then defended her suspension, could have caused communal unrest (for the record no such unrest happened). Her "irresponsible" act of bringing down a wall of  a mosque which is not really a mosque but an illegal structure built on government land, was the prime reason for her suspension. One would think that the government would be worried about its land being occupied illegally but it appears more worried about suspending someone who is protecting its property. (Even more curious is the fact that it is reported that the DM's report on the incident says that no wall existed to be demolished - so why the suspension for a wall that was never there, for communal riots that never happened?)

The truth seems to lie elsewhere. Durga Nagpal is known to have  cracked down on the illegal sand mining mafia, which most feel, is the real reason for her suspension. More reports on the net reveal how Nagpal and her officer Ashish Kumar were attacked by the sand mafia in the past. Ashish Kumar has been transferred from Gautam Budh Nagar since, again a rather hasty move, some reports say. Anyway, as things stand the young beaurocrat is suspended while a controversy rages on at how certain powers manipulate the system.

The story does appear quite clear to anyone who can put two and two together. But what one must concern oneself with in such incidents is why honest officers are targeted so easily by the system. Honest officers typically have no godfathers because when they shoot, they will shoot both sides, if they find any wrongdoing. Defenceless, they are easy victims of the system. From Khemka to Khairnar, there have been umpteen cases of spineless leaders hiding behind the skirts of the system and hounding honest officers. It is certainly time to protect the honest officers. It is the least we can do.

What we need is spine in the system and its leadership. In governance. What we have is a quivering mass of jelly. We need a system that will care for our people and their needs, that will guide them in the right direction, that will seek greater good in days to come. Instead we have systems that are eager to please the rich and powerful, that do not mind shooting at the very people who are doing their job. Honesty is being punished where it should be rewarded and the more we promote such a culture, the more we are going to see in our own futures. A look at the news - from the politics in the first page to business and the sports page - our society seems to be filled replete with tales of gross misuse of power and of people occupying positions they are not doing any justice to.

We need leaders with spine. Not those who use borrowed muscle to squash the powerless. Muscle built on dishonest means. We do not need power hungry legacies trying to protect what they think is theirs and theirs alone. That is not yours my friends, that belongs to the nation. The power, the money, the time, the sweat, the blood. Remember your duty and yes, remember that you have a spine too.

Your job is to reward honest officers. And punish the dishonest and wrong doers. Not the other way round.

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