104 arrests in 6 months: Noida IAS officer's sand mafia crackdown

DelhiDurga Shakti Nagpal. (IE Photo)
Durga Shakti Nagpal, the 2009-batch IAS officer suspended by the Uttar Pradesh government for allegedly "disturbing communal harmony", had in collaboration with the Noida police registered 66 FIRs, arrested 104 people and seized 81 vehicles in the past six months alone in a massive crackdown on illegal sand mining in Gautam Buddh Nagar district.

The number of cases and arrests are more than those recorded during all of 2012.

Nagpal, who was posted as sub-divisional magistrate (Sadar), was suspended after she went to the Rabupura area of Greater Noida to inspect an under-construction masjid, which had not being given clearance by the state government.

Senior police officers said the 81 vehicles confiscated in a series of raids include cars, dumpers, trucks as well as JCB machines. Of the cases recorded in the last six months, 20 FIRs were registered, 25 arrests made and 35 vehicles seized just in the last fortnight.

Nagpal and senior police officers also ensured the raids were shrouded in secrecy. Sources said that when raids were conducted, only three senior officers Nagpal, the SSP and the circle officer in charge of the area were in the know as leaks were suspected.

"For each raid that was conducted, a police force consisting of constables and inspectors are required. In the past, it was found that those involved in illegal sand mining knew that a raid would be conducted, and cleared the area. Therefore, the force would be assembled at a spot several kilometres away from where the raid would be conducted. They would not be told why they were being summoned. Only a few minutes before the raid started would the force be told what they were to do," a source said.

In yet another attempt to prevent leaks, a majority of the raids were conducted at odd hours of the day, with only Nagpal and the circle officer in charge of the area being present in person.

"Sand mining (mostly) takes place at night. The earliest that a raid would be conducted was 11 pm, and would generally last two hours. There have been several instances when raids were conducted between 3 and 5 am. At every raid, Nagpal would be present," an official said.

Senior officials said a majority of those arrested were persons who live near the riverbed. "The land belongs to the Irrigation department, and therefore is not private property. With a huge real estate market growing in the Noida and Greater Noida region, the mafia operates using a combination of threats and profit sharing with the locals who get sucked in," the official said.

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