A hellhole for civil servants

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Akhilesh Yadav
Akhilesh Yadav

Akhilesh Yadav is fond of boasting that his government ushered in a new era and restored democracy since he took power in March 2012. But when it comes to the treatment of IAS and IPS officers, there is nothing much to choose between the previous BSP government and the ruling SP dispensation.

So far, the SP regime has transferred IAS officers 800 times. It works out to an average of 50 transfers every month in a state that has around 350 IAS officers.

“The average tenure of a District Magistrate has come down to six months against the national average of nearly nine months. Secretaries and Principal Secretaries can stay put for a reasonable time only if they fall in line and follow the diktat of their political bosses,” says retired Chief Secretary VK Mittal.

In reply to an RTI application filed by social activist Nutan Thakur, the government revealed that 43 IPS officers have been transferred 40 times in their career. Senior IPS officer Vinod Kumar Singh was transferred 43 times, while his colleague Arun Kumar Gupta was shunted from one place to another 45 times. Other IPS officers transferred frequently include KL Meena (59 times), Kamal Saxena (48) and Vijay Singh (47).

Making life hell for bureaucrats is nothing new for the Samajwadi Party. Borrowed from the CPM in West Bengal, the idea of a “committed bureaucracy” is one of SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav’s pet fascinations. In pursuit of this ideal, the SP has always patronised corrupt bureaucrats and punished those who refused to toe the party line.

In retaliation, an action group of IAS officers led by senior bureaucrat Vijay Shankar Pandey was formed in 1995. It launched a campaign to elect the “four most corrupt IAS officers” of UP cadre through a secret ballot. Among the elected four were Akhand Pratap Singh and Neera Yadav, who were elevated as chief secretaries when the SP was previously in power (August 2003-May 2007). Then chief minister Mulayam had to remove both following a Supreme Court directive. Both faced a CBI inquiry and eventually ended up in prison.

On several occasions, Mulayam and Akhilesh have announced at various party forums that the bureaucrats should work in close coordination with party leaders or face the music. Officers are hounded, humiliated and threatened by ministers, MLAs, MPs and even local SP workers, who have the party leadership’s blessings.

Sample this. Javed Abidi, chairman of the UP Developed System Corporation, who enjoys the rank of a minister of state, asked his supporters in Amroha on 24 April to assault officers who refused to bow to their diktat. On 23 April, Textiles Minister Shiv Kumar Beria threatened to “strip any police officer of his uniform and throw him out if he doesn’t listen to us”. On 13 April, MoS Health, Shankhlal Manjhi, told party workers that they had the licence to thrash officers. “If the officers don’t listen to you, then lock them up in a room and bash them,” he thundered. And don’t bother about the repercussions.”

Here are some glaring incidents from the past 18 months…

Deepak Agarwal

District Magistrate, Etawah

On Dussehra (22 October 2012), communal riots erupted in Faizabad and four adjoining towns following the theft of a temple idol. Nearly 50 shops in Faizabad’s main market were looted and set on fire. The then Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Ramit Sharma, and District Magistrate (DM) Deepak Agarwal, who launched a search operation for illicit arms after the riots, were transferred a week later.

Vidya Shankar Singh

Additional District Magistrate, Etawah

Every December, the Sefai Festival is held in memory of Mulayam’s nephew Ranvir Yadav. Apart from a small government grant, the expenses are met by donations from traders, contractors and government agencies. Last year, Etawah Additional District Magistrate (ADM) Vidya Shankar Singh approached a local LPG bottling plant for donations. Little did he know that plant manager Sandeep Yadav was the brother-in-law of Badaun MP Dharmendra Yadav (who is also Mulayam’s nephew). In no time, the ADM was suspended.

Sudarshan Singh

Divisional Forest Officer, Etawah

On 31 July 2012, Etawah Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Sudarshan Singh was supposed to retire from service. Before that could happen, the IFS officer was placed under suspension. His mistake? He delayed the issuance of a no-objection certificate for the land where a CNG station was to be set up. The CNG station is owned by a close associate of PWD Minister and Mulayam’s brother Shivpal Singh Yadav.

Himanshu Kumar

Divisional Commissioner, Allahabad

Himanshu Kumar, a 1990 batch IAS officer, was posted as Allahabad Divisional Commissioner on 8 June. Within 24 hours, he was removed and put on the transfer waiting list. He had committed the cardinal sin of ordering a probe into the illegal sand mining by SP leaders. Challenging Kumar’s transfer, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties filed a PIL in the Allahabad High Court. While disposing the PIL, the HC rapped the state government for transferring Kumar over what it referred to as a nexus between the sand mafia and state officials. “We are not expressing any opinion in the matter of Himanshu Kumar’s transfer at this stage, but we do feel that if the allegations made in the writ petition are correct and if Kumar has an unblemished career, there is little justification for the state to have shifted him within 24 hours of his having directed the Additional District Magistrate to seize illegal silica sand,” said a Division Bench of Justices Arun Tandon and Vipin Sinha.

Navneet Kumar Rana

Superintendent of Police, Gonda

KC Pandey, a native of Gonda district and SP secretary, operated a cattle smuggling racket. When the police seized some trucks in which cattle were being smuggled, Pandey called up Gonda SP Navneet Kumar Rana and allegedly offered him a bribe to let go of the trucks. Rana, a 2000 batch IPS officer, taped the conversation and lodged a criminal case against Pandey and charged him with criminal conspiracy under Section 120-B of the IPC. When the taped conversation became public in February, Rana was promptly transferred. Akhilesh Yadav not only jumped to Pandey’s defence, but made him chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Council of Sugarcane Research, with the status of Minister of State.

Shubhra Saxena

District Magistrate, Rampur

An engineering graduate from IIT Roorkee, Shubhra Saxena topped the 2008 civil services examination. She was posed as District Magistrate of Rampur, the native district of Urban Development Minister Azam Khan. She could not last beyond six months at the post and was shifted in June 2012 for failing to work as per the wish of the local SP leaders. However, Rampur SP chief Omendra Chauhan alleged that “she was not accessible to the common people, never answered phone calls and the gate of the District Magistrate’s official residence was always locked”.

Hari Shankar Pandey

Special Secretary, Rural Engineering Department

Senior Public Commission Service (PCS) officer Hari Shankar Pandey, who blew the whistle on the Rs 1,400 crore Rural Engineering Department (RED) scam, tendered his resignation from the department in July after he was chargesheeted by the state government for “conducting the enquiry in a wrong way”. The 1978 batch PCS officer, who was special secretary of the department, was transferred in November 2012 to the relatively insignificant Department of National Integration soon after he exposed the rot in the RED. In a series of letters to department officials, Pandey had highlighted instances of large-scale irregularities causing a loss of around Rs 1,400 crore to the state exchequer. He had also demanded a audit of the work between 2007 and 2012, when the BSP was in power. As he refused to receive the chargesheet, the government directed the local police to deliver the chargesheert. Over his refusal, it was pasted on the gate of his private residence. Pandey has challenged the chargesheet in the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court and the matter is sub judice.

Anand Swaroop

Inspector General, Uttar Pradesh

Anand Swaroop, a 1992 batch IPS officer, is the Uttar Pradesh Inspector General. Swaroop is known for his unorthodox style of policing and “daredevilry” in taking on politicians. He has been transferred 38 times in the past 18 years. The standing joke is that by the time he unpacks his stuff, he is handed his next transfer order.

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