In UP, officials survive at mercy of political masters

Lucknow, Aug 5 (IANS) Even as the suspension of IAS official Durga Shakti Nagpal hogs national limelight, there are hundreds of bureaucrats and police officers in Uttar Pradesh who perform and perish at the whims and wrath of their political masters.

The malice does not stop at the top level. Middle rung officers like inspectors, sub-divisional magistrates (SDMs) and city magistrates are shunted from one post to another, within days, like a ping pong ball.

A look through the transfer orders issued by the Akhilesh Yadav government shows that more than 2,000 senior police and administrative officials have been transferred in the last 18 months.

Officials like Shalabh Mathur, a young police officer, has seen four postings in six months. Officials in various departments are suspended, at times without being told why.

"All of us know that when A government is formed (in UP), who will be handpicked for top jobs and who will get plum postings when B party comes to power," a disgusted senior IAS officer told IANS.

He cited the case of Lucknow District Magistrate Anuraag Yadav, who has no problem despite several communal clashes in the state capital.

Yadav is the son-in-law of a powerful Samajwadi Party leader and cabinet minister. He seems secure though the government has warned that it will suspend district magistrates and senior superintendents of police if there was a riot.

"The government has double standards," says social activist Nutan Thakur.

On three occasions in the past three months, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav and his ministers have dared officials to fall in line, listen to party workers or face the music.

Loyalty and not performance is the benchmark for postings, says a senior official with the information department. He added that service rules have been flouted and promotions marred by prejudices.

The loyalty-to-ruling-party has become so imperative that Supreme Court directives are overlooked when station house officers (SHOs) are posted.

The minimum tenure of SHOs has been fixed at two years. If transferred earlier, the reason has to be given in writing.

The ground reality is different.

According to information obtained for 42 police stations of Lucknow district through RTI, in the last two years a total of 72 transfer orders were passed for 215 SHOs in which 154 police stations got affected.

Many officers were transferred more than once.

The suspension of officials remains a serious concern in Uttar Pradesh. An RTI query revealed that 362 orders of suspension were issued in the last four years. Till December 2012, 510 policemen were suspended. This averages one policeman every third day.

Many see these suspension as arm twisting tactics by the government as subsequent action was followed only against 223 policemen.

In the case of 287 policemen (56 percent), follow up departmental action was completely overlooked. Of 223, 36 were found not guilty. Only 187 (around a third of those suspended) were finally punished.

Of the 510 policemen, 156 got reinstated within one month.

Among suspended provincial police service (PPS) officers, eight were additional superintendents and 16 deputy superintendents. In none of these cases has any officer been found guilty so far.

Many forest officials have also been suspended by the chief minister. Another suspension which jolted the bureaucracy was that of Shalini Prasad in June. She was the Kanpur divisional commissioner.

She was accused of alleged mismanagement of a function where laptops were distributed free to students in Farrukhabad.

While she faced action, Farrukhabad District Magistrate Pawan Kumar, who was responsible for the function, was spared.

(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at mohit.d@ians.in)

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