A district collector in Surajpur district in Chhattisgarh has been removed from his position after a video that went viral showed him slapping a youth who was allegedly out to buy medicines during lockdown on Saturday.
The incident drew sharp criticism, forcing district collector Ranbir Sharma to apologise for the physical assault and for throwing the man’s phone on the ground for violating Covid-19 safety norms during the lockdown.
In the video, the man can be seen showing a piece of paper to Sharma as an explanation for why he is out during the lockdown. In response, Sharma takes his phone and throws it to the ground and then slaps him. He ten asks the cops to thrash the man and also asks them to file an FIR against him.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel took stock of the situation and ordered for the removal of Sharma with immediate effect.
“Through social media, the case of misbehaviour of a young man by Surajpur Collector Ranbir Sharma has come to my notice. It is very sad and condemnable. In Chhattisgarh, no such act will be tolerated at all. Instructions have been given to remove Collector Ranbir Sharma with immediate effect,” Baghel said in a tweet on Sunday morning.
सोशल मीडिया के माध्यम से सूरजपुर कलेक्टर रणबीर शर्मा द्वारा एक नवयुवक से दुर्व्यवहार का मामला मेरे संज्ञान में आया है।यह बेहद दुखद और निंदनीय है। छत्तीसगढ़ में इस तरह का कोई कृत्य कतई बर्दाश्त नहीं किया जाएगा।
कलेक्टर रणबीर शर्मा को तत्काल प्रभाव से हटाने के निर्देश दिए हैं।
— Bhupesh Baghel (@bhupeshbaghel) May 23, 2021
Baghel later instructed that a new phone be made available to youngster.
मुख्यमंत्री @bhupeshbaghel जी ने निर्देश दिए हैं कि सूरजपुर में कलेक्टर द्वारा नवयुवक के साथ दुर्व्यवहार के दौरान नवयुवक के क्षतिग्रस्त मोबाइल की प्रतिपूर्ति के रूप में उस नवयुवक को नया मोबाइल फोन उपलब्ध कराया जाए।— CMO Chhattisgarh (@ChhattisgarhCMO) May 23, 2021
Sanjeev Gupta, Secretary, Inter State Council Secretariat, Union Home Ministry, termed the district collector’s act “despicable" and “unbecoming of an IAS officer".
The IAS Association also condemned the collector’s behaviour, saying it goes “against the basic tenets of the service & civility.”
“The IAS Association strongly condemns the behaviour of Collector Surajpur, Chhattisgarh. It is unacceptable & against the basic tenets of the service & civility. Civil servants must have empathy & provide a healing touch to society at all times, more so in these difficult times,” it said in a tweet.
The district magistrate told the newspaper that the boy was not minor but 23 years old. He said the person who was slapped (by him) and canned by the cops, was speeding on his bike and could not properly explain why he was out when the town was under a lockdown.
The collector had earlier told Times of India that the man he slapped was speeding on his bike and could not properly explain why he was out during the lockdown. “When police tried to intercept him, he tried to escape by over-speeding the bike Later, he made two different statements when asked for the reason he was out," the district collector was quoted as saying by TOI.