Monday, 30th October 2017

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‘Bakwas’ plays on Yogi’s lips

Spat breaks out between UP CM and Noida district magistrate over handling of migrant crisis

By Piyush Srivastava in Lucknow
  • Published 31.03.20, 4:32 AM
  • Updated 31.03.20, 4:32 AM
  • 2 mins read
A migrant labourer's family is silhouetted as they make the journey to their village by foot, following the lockdown amid concern over spread of coronavirus in New Delhi, India, Saturday, March 28, 2020. (AP)

The strain is showing on Yogi Adityanath.

A spat broke out between the Uttar Pradesh chief minister and the Noida district magistrate at an official meeting on Monday over the handling of the migrant crisis.

District magistrate B.N. Singh, who sought leave and a transfer after an alleged outburst blaming the mess on Lucknow’s tall statements about buses for migrants, was shunted out later in the day.

A video clip of the Noida meeting has been circulating on social media showing Yogi angrily reprimanding someone — apparently Singh — but the district magistrate can be neither seen nor heard.

In the circulating video clip, a furious chief minister is purportedly heard saying: “Bakwas bandh karo apna. Bakwas kar ke aap logon ne mahaul banaya hua hai (Stop your nonsense. By talking rubbish, you people have created this environment).”

The purported voice of Adityanath adds: “You people passed your responsibilities on to one another instead of doing your job. An alert had been issued two months ago; the alert was issued across the state.”

Adityanath had announced on Saturday that 1,000 buses would be deployed in Noida and Ghaziabad to ferry migrant labourers home.

A government official in Lucknow said the spat began after Adityanath questioned Singh’s efficiency in dealing with the problem of the tens of thousands of migrant workers stranded in Noida — unemployed, eager to return home but without transport.

Many of these labourers and their families had arrived from Delhi and Punjab hoping the Adityanath government would arrange buses for them to return to their homes in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

“The DM said more than two lakh migrants had gathered in Noida within hours of Lucknow’s announcement on Saturday about 1,000 buses being made available,” the Lucknow official said.

“Singh said he had been left in the lurch, trying to arrange buses on his own, because the state administration offered him no cooperation apart from making misleading statements in Lucknow.”

Singh was quoted as telling Adityanath, in front of other senior district officers: “I was caught in a political web and was expected to perform. I have been working 18 hours a day to solve the migrant problem and deal with the spread of the coronavirus. But now I’m feeling helpless.”

He reportedly added: “I don’t want to work in Noida. Please approve 15 days’ leave for me.”

Although Adityanath had on Saturday announced 1,000 buses, labourers gathered in Noida and Ghaziabad have said only a handful were available on Saturday and Sunday.

They said those buses dropped them at Bareilly, Kannauj, Kanpur and Lucknow instead of driving them to their homes in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Singh’s mobile was switched off on Monday evening.

However, a letter attributed to him was circulating on social media in the evening in which he purportedly seeks three months’ leave.

“Kindly relieve me from the post of district magistrate and grant me three months’ earned leave. Keeping in view the Covid-19 (outbreak), kindly appoint someone to the post of district magistrate, Noida, so that there is no administrative laxity,” the letter says.

Chief secretary R.K. Tiwari later said that Singh had been transferred to Lucknow as a member of the revenue board and a departmental inquiry had been initiated against him.

He said Allahabad district magistrate Suhas L.Y. would replace Singh in Noida.

Noida is the worst affected district in Uttar Pradesh, accounting for 36 of the state’s 81 Covid-19 cases till Monday evening.