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Villagers chase away sand mafia in Uttar Pradesh

Aug 05, 2013

The trucks and machinery left behind by the fleeing mob have been impounded by the police, but they are yet to register a complaint.

A group of villagers chased away armed goons who entered their land riding dumpers and trucks near Noida on Friday, a few hours after a villager opposing the sand mafia had been shot dead. In a significant show of courage and solidarity, probably the first visible sign of mass awakening, the villagers fought heroically with around 20 trigger-happy gangsters underlining the fact that suspended IAS officer Durga Sakthi Nagpal had been fighting for a popular cause.

Sensing the villagers' determination to throw them out of the area, these men took to their heels. The trucks and machinery left behind by the fleeing mob have been impounded by the police, but they are yet to register a complaint. Village pradhan Ajay Nagar said that the incident happened around 11pm on Wednesday. "We found nearly 20-25 people digging up earth on our plots," he said. "They had several dumpers, which were being loaded with soil. Seeing us approach, they started firing but luckily no one was hurt. Realizing that there were too many of us, they fled leaving behind their dumpers and equipment."

On being called the police arrived at the spot and seized the vehicles and machinery but the villagers insisted that they took no further action. "The mafia has been rampantly taking away earth and sand from the villages near the Yamuna river bed," Nagar said. "We have often complained to the authorities, who prefer to turn a blind eye to the racket," said an elderly person. "We are scared for our lives. When we got to know that Greater Noida's SDM, Durgaji, had taken on these offenders, we were hoping for relief. Now that she has been removed, our troubles are going to multiply as the sand mining mafia has become even more brazen," Nagar added.

In the badlands of Noida officials daring to enforce the rule of law are regularly threatened, bullied and even physically assaulted by members of the mafia which pretty much rules the area. This year there alone have been five incidents of officials being shot.

Sources say that former mining officer Ashish Kumar was attacked thrice and threatened repeatedly by the mafia. Durga Sakthi Nagpal, dumped recently for going after the gangsters, too has faced dire threats, underlining the sort of odds she was fighting. In February, the mafia’s strongmen beat up a mining officer and his colleagues who were probing illegal sand mining in the Greater Noida area. On April 28, illegal miners shot at a man and beat his cousin with sticks when the two tried to stop the gang from digging on their land.

Meanwhile, the district administration has written to the principal secretary of the state mining department to post a mining official in the area immediately. Ashok Kumar, the mining officer assisting Durga in her campaign against the sand mafia was shunted out three days prior to her suspension and sent to Bulandshahar.

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