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HindustanTimes Fri,29 Aug 2014

Country stands up for IAS Durga, support flows in from Facebook, Twitter

Vishakha Saxena, Hindustantimes.com  New Delhi, August 03, 2013
First Published: 17:22 IST(3/8/2013) | Last Updated: 19:22 IST(3/8/2013)

Ever since the story of IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal made headlines, the country has been gripped with her resilient fight for justice. In fact, enraged Indians have taken to Twitter and Facebook to show support for the officer who dared to take a stand against the sand mafia.

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Durga, a young IAS officer with a passion to save the environment, launched a massive drive against the illegal sand mining business within her jurisdiction.

Following this, she was suspended for allegedly demolishing an illegal mosque.

When the incident came to light, it whipped up a major storm in UP's power centres. Controversial statements were made and retracted; reports were submitted and rejected and the whole issue was warped into a ball of complicated politics.

Where UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and the Samajwadi Party kept pressing for stronger punishment for Nagpal, other politicos stood in support of the IAS officer.

  •   SP leader Shivpal Yadav backs Akhilesh action against Durga

  •   UP likely to chargesheet suspended IAS officer

  •   IAS officer removed to prevent communal tension: Akhilesh

And, in the midst of the political tongue-bashing, the media started sniffing for signs of foul-play.

READ: Was Durga Shakti Nagpal trapped?

Their job was made easy by one Narendra Singh Bhati, a senior SP leader who bragged about getting Durga "suspended within 41 minutes". His speech, in a rally in UP's Gautam Budh Nagar district, went viral for all the wrong reasons.

VIDEO: Got IAS officer suspended in 41 minutes, brags SP leader

And, like most netas who make controversial statements, he later blamed the media for taking his words out of context.

That however was not the end of the story.

Durga's case made it to the court after a plea was filed against her suspension in the Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court. The court however dismissed the plea saying it was "a matter between the master and the servant".

The court did, however, pull up the centre and state governments over the illegal sand mining issue.

Durga too met with UP's chief secretary claiming her innocence.

In the midst of all these developments social media had taken a clear stand: solidarity with an honest woman victimised by politics and organised crime.

Communities and pages supporting Durga were started on Facebook and #Durga became a twitter trend.

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People were seen expressing a myriad of emotions towards injustice and the helplessness of someone made powerless by criminal power.

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Not just words, but internet sensations like memes and cartoons were also made, criticising the government and its inaction towards issues that strike an emotional chord with the regular Indian.

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Corruption, an issue that has invoked passionate responses from the common man before, came under the scanner again. Except only this time, corruption had a victim people identified with. Or rather, someone who people wanted to identify with.

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All said and done, Durga's fight seems far from over. It's hard to muddle through seasoned politicians and powerful criminals no matter how much support one garners.

However, the response the issue has generated can definitely act as a strong support system for Nagpal.

Until a concrete step is taken, one can hope that in the run-up to the 2014 assembly elections, the government would do right by those who will remember these incidents when they stand in voting lines next year.

MORE: Centre seeks report, says will ensure justice to suspended IAS officer

POLL: Has Akhilesh Yadav lived up to the hopes of Uttar Pradesh?


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