On the night of July 23, five people armed with rifles and pistols came to the residence of Deputy Collector Mathura Rajiv Upadhaya and told the guards posted at the main gate that the days of the officer were numbered. They threatened to kill the officer if he does not stop the anti-encroachment drive being carried out by him.
The next day, on July 24, the Deputy Collector wrote a letter to the District Magistrate demanding that his security should be further beefed up. “Yesterday night five people – four armed with rifles and one with a pistol – came to my residence and told guards the Deputy Collector should stop the demolition of shops and houses otherwise he will be killed,” Upadhaya wrote in his letter.
He further wrote: “In view of such a threat please increase my security.”
Almost at the same time, around 550 km south-east of Mathura, the District Magistrate Ballia Srihari Pratap Shahi wrote a letter to District Magistrate Mirzapur on July 23 saying that land mafia have grabbed the land of Ballia’s Additional District Magistrate (land and revenue) Pravarsheel Bharathwal in Bharuhna village in Mirzapur district. Bharathwal is also Chief Revenue Officer in Ballia district.
“Bharathwal wants to settle down in his village after retirement and therefore wants a house to be constructed in his native village but some land mafia, who have cases registered against them in local thana, have threatened the senior PCS (Provincial Civil Services) officer of dire consequences.” The District Magistrate of Mirzapur wrote in his letter.
He further said that action should be taken against the guilty.
Interestingly, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister has been taking pride in controlling crime and particularly bringing an end to land grabbing. On April 26, 2017 the government had approved setting up of an anti-land mafia task force to check land grabbing in the state.
The task force will work under the overall supervision of the chief secretary while various officials ranging from divisional commissioners, district magistrates, ADM and sub-divisional magistrates (SDMs) will look into the complaints. A portal was also launched on which land grabbing complaints can be registered.
One of the members of the task force is an ADM and one of the ADMs in Mirzapur voiced helplessness in getting his land freed from the land encroachers.
These two cases are a reflection of how criminals are calling the shots in Uttar Pradesh. If the senior administrative officers are not safe, what could be the plight of the common man is understandable.
The Uttar Pradesh PCS Association (both are PCS officers) has taken up the case with the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi. “We have got the complaints and are looking into the matter,” Awasthi said.