The Uttar Pradesh Government has transferred the District Magistrate (DM) of Hathras Praveen Kumar Laxkar, and sixteen other IAS officers. The DM had hit headlines after the gangrape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit girl. She died on September 29 at Safdarjung Hospital.
According to media reports, Praveen Kumar will now be the new District Magistrate of Mirzapur, and Uttar Pradesh’s Jal Nigam Additional Managing Director Ramesh Ranjan will be replacing him in Hathras.
This administrative reshuffle comes days after the Allahabad High Court expressed its dilemma over the DM stationed at Hathras. The court wondered if it was ‘fair and reasonable’ to allow the District Magistrate to continue at Hathras during the pendency of the investigation and other proceedings regarding illegal cremation etc.
In court, the DM had accepted that the forceful cremation of the victim in the middle of the night without the family’s consent was imperative to maintain law and order. At this defence, the court noted that the victim was entitled to a dignified cremation and observed, “We do not at this stage find any good reason on behalf of the administration as to why they could not hand over the body to the family members for some time, say for even half an hour, to enable them to perform their rituals at home and thereafter to cremate it either in the night or next day.”
In November, the State of Uttar Pradesh had apprised the court that the Government would not be transferring him because the State believed that it was all a “political game” allegedly played by political parties with “oblique motives to exert political pressure” and that there was no question of the DM to tamper with the evidence relevant to the investigation.
The State had also submitted before the Allahabad High Court that since the investigation itself is being conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the State Government does not have any role to play. The court however found the State counsel to have “attempted to justify the cremation of the victim in the night by narrating the facts and to contend that the District Magistrate did not commit any wrong in this regard.”
The victim’s family has also alleged that the DM had given in writing to them about acceptance of their demands of housing and employment based on their conversation with the Chief Minister of U.P. through video conferencing, however, except for the compensation part no other demand had been fulfilled.
The father of the victim also expressed to the court his grief over the conduct of the DM and wondered if his complaint against the DM had been recorded by the Special Investigation Team. To this, the court has directed the State to file a first or interim report of the SIT.
Among other transfers, Gonda District Magistrate Nitin Bansal has been sent to Pratapgarh and Additional CEO of Noida, Shruti, has been made the DM of Balrampur, replacing Krishna Karunesh, who has now become the vice-chairman of the Ghaziabad Development Authority, as reported by The Print.
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BREAKING: A’bad HC summons suspended SP, Hathras on November 2, Victim was Entitled to Dignified Cremation