Sand Wars Continued

Organized mafia groups control much of Uttar Pradesh’s economic and commercial activities. The availability of railway, irrigation and mining money in the late 1970s gave rise to a powerful class of mafia dons in Eastern UP. This, coupled high rates of unemployment among the remainder of the population, thrust the mafia into a strong position of control. Illegal drug smuggling contributed substantially to this rise.
UP’s expansive bureaucracy, which many find to be highly corrupt, fed into this rise.
Hard evidence of this came in a 2006 State Government report on Uttar Pradesh’s mafia activity. The Allahabad High Court ordered the government to prepare the report and present it to the Lucknow Bench. This summons was given in direct response to a sand mining dispute and with greater attention to the rampant mafia activity in the state and the government’s alleged involvement with criminal groups. The report was prepared by Principal Secretary G.B. Patnaik.
Patnaik’s report confessed the mafia controlled a significant portion of the economic and political power in the state. The government admitted it had allowed mafia groups to gain influence across industry, finance politicians and manipulate the state. Patnaik’s report detailed that mafia elements exist in virtually every state sector and listed the most prominent public service arenas including “medical, irrigation, mining, urban development, forests, excise, housing and education departments.”
This, the report admitted, was due to the government’s inability to provide effective law and order.
Today, Mafia remain a persistent force across Uttar Pradesh. In this report, Ajeet looks into the mafia’s influence on the police force. Ajeet’s earlier report, Sand Wars on the Yamuna, explored the tension between Dalit sand laborers and the ruling mafia controlling the sand extraction industry in the area. Here, Ajeet explores how these same mafia use their influence over the local police force to cripple the Dalit sand laborers’ claim to the Yamuna’s sand beds. The mafia compel the police to target Dalits protesting the mafia’s control—causing many Dalits to go into hiding or leave.
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A MBBS student from Kashmir, stressed by exams and the pandemic, uses art to unwind.

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