The Akhilesh Yadav government ostensibly acted against young IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal to maintain communal harmony.
But the UP government neither has an impressive track record of maintaining communal harmony nor letting the civil service work in peace.
For instance, every second death in a communal incident in the country in 2012 took place in Uttar Pradesh, killing 39 people in the state as compared to 94 people nationwide.
As compared to just 12 deaths in communal violence in 2011 – when the state was preparing for a regime change – 2012 was a particularly bad year.
But UP has been notorious for failing to protect the lives of its citizens in communal violence. Or letting the civil service work in peace.
So it is not a surprise that Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of deaths in communal violence during 2005-2009 too, killing 176 people. Across the country, 648 people were killed during this period in 4,030 incidents of communal violence.
But government officials insist that Nagpal – the IAS officer serving as SDM in Greater Noida when she was suspended – wasn’t an exception.
It has been common for the political establishment in the state – irrespective of its party affiliation – to suspend and transfer civil servants at the drop of a hat.
The Bureau of Police Research & Development at the Centre compiles the number of district police chiefs who are transferred within one and two years. According to its reports, UP tops the list of states where the largest number of Superintendents of Police get the shortest stints in a particular district.
For instance, a total of 259 SPs were removed within one year of posting in the country in 2010. A little less than half of them – 122 – were in UP. The state government did not provide the 2011 figures to BPRD on this aspect.
“The Nagpal case isn’t an exception. Such things happen everyday in UP and many other northern states... It is just that this one has caught the imagination of the media,” a UP cadre IAS official serving in the central government said.
Former chief minister Mayawati announced suspensions of field officers at public meetings to send a message to her political constituency that she was the boss. That objective achieved, she often wouldn’t hesitate to withdraw the orders if the suspended officers knocked at her doors.