Muzaffarnagar riots, Nagpal issue brought shame to UP
Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh was in the news in 2013 mostly for the wrong reasons be it the Muzaffarnagar riots, the killing of police officer Zia-ul-Haq or the suspension of IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal.
The killing of Deputy Superintendent of Police Zia-ul-Haq along with two others in Balipur village in Pratapgarh district and a series of other incidents saw Opposition parties raising questions over Akhilesh Yadav`s governance.
Haq`s wife Parveen Azad accused controversial MLA and minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya of hatching the conspiracy after which the latter has to resign from the post. However, Raja Bhaiya was reinducted in the state cabinet after being given a clean chit by CBI.
The communal riots in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining areas, in which over 60 people were killed and thousands displaced, was another blot on the state government, which blamed BJP of triggering violence with two of its MLAs Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana arrested by police. They were booked under National Security Act, which was later revoked by the court.
The SP government, which claimed of fulfilling most of the promises made in its election manifesto in the one-and-a-half-year of its rule, took an initiative to withdraw cases against "innocent" Muslim youths accused in serials blasts in Lucknow, Faizabad and Varanasi.
The BJP accused it of following a policy of Muslim appeasement and the move was challenged in the court, which said that Centre`s permission was required for criminal cases under central laws. The final verdict on the PIL challenging the government`s move is yet to come.
The Nagpal issue haunted the state government for nearly four months. The 2009-batch IAS officer posted as sub-divisional magistrate of Gautam Budh Nagar had clamped down on illegal mining and resolutely taken head-on the powerful sand mafia in Uttar Pradesh.
Nagpal was suspended ostensibly in connection with demolition of a wall at a disputed place of worship. The Uttar Pradesh government was quite adamant on its decision but after mounting pressure from all quarters, it finally revoked Nagpal`s suspension in October.
Later, a central panel set up by Union Environment Ministry found "rampant, unscientific and illegal" mining going on at various locations in the Gautam Budh Nagar.
The year began with the grand organisation of Maha Kumbh, during which around 10 crore pilgrims took dip at the convergence of Ganga, Yamuna and mythological Saraswati at Allahabad between January 14 and March 10.
But a stampede at Allahabad railway station on the occasion of Mauni Amavasya which left at least 36 people dead and hundreds injured marred the event.
Amid all these incidents, the chase for dream gold at Raja Rao Ram Baksh Singh`s fort at Daudiya Khera in Unnao district was among the most talked-about events of the year.
Based on the dream by seer Shobhan Sarkar, Archaeological Survey of India started excavation making the sleepy village an attraction of the world media. The effort proved futile as ASI failed to find anything of historical relevance.
In a jolt to former Chief Minister Mayawati, the Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta said public money worth Rs 1,400 crore was siphoned off in construction of memorials during her regime and indicted 199 people including her close aide and former BSP minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui.
Lokayukta N K Mehrotra, however, said there was no evidence regarding any involvement of Mayawati.
Mayawati was critical of the government on several occasions. Angry over removal of hoardings installed by her party on B R Ambedkar`s birth anniversary, she accused SP government of indulging in political vendetta and said the ruling party`s "goons" will be "taught a lesson" when she returns to power.
On another occasion, she branded rival SP leaders as "terror elements" and demanded imposition of President`s Rule.
Former Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, who had walked out of BJP before the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, merged his Jankranti Party (Rashtrawadi) with the saffron party. However Singh, an independent MP from Etah constituency, could not join the party himself due to the electoral clause under anti-defection law that requires him to first resign from the membership of the House.
Uttar Pradesh Khadi and Village Industry Minister Raja Ram Pandey triggered a controversy by allegedly promising to get roads in Pratapgarh district constructed "like cheeks of actresses Hema Malini and Madhuri Dixit". He was sacked.
BSP leader Sarvesh Singh Seepu, who was a former SP MLA, and another person were shot dead by unidentified assailants triggering clashes between his supporters and police that left two persons dead and 18 other injured.
The state government banned the VHP`s `Chaurasi Kosi Parikrama Yatra` and `Sankalp Diwas` stir over fears of communal flare-up.
Khalid Mujahid, an accused in the serial blasts that had rocked Lucknow and Faizabad courts in November 2007, died after he fell sick and fainted near Barabanki border while being escorted to Lucknow jail after a court hearing.
A controversy erupted over a communique by the state home secretary convening a meeting to discuss the "reconstruction of Ram temple in Ayodhya on the lines of Somnath temple", with a red-faced Samajwadi Party government calling it an "error".
Senior IAS officer Sarvesh Chandra Mishra was suspended and a departmental probe initiated against him over the issue.
An FIR was lodged against controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen for allegedly hurting religious sentiments following a complaint by Hasan Raza Khan Noori Miyan, son of the `sajjadanasheen` of Dargah-e-Ala Hazrat Maulana Subhan Raza Khan Subhani Miyan, who objected to certain tweets by her against clerics.
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