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 a video that has by now gone viral on social media, District Collector Ranbir Sharma is seen upbraiding and slapping a man who attempts to show him a piece of paper and explain why he was out during the lockdown. The IAS officer then throws the man’s phone on the road and asks is heard telling the accompanying policemen: “Maaro isse” (beat him up).
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.
किसी भी अधिकारी का शासकीय जीवन में इस तरह का आचरण स्वीकार्य नहीं है।
इस घटना से क्षुब्ध हूँ। मैं नवयुवक व उनके परिजनों से खेद व्यक्त करता हूँ।
— 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 Indian Administrative Service officers association has strongly condemned the District Collector’s actions.
“It is unacceptable and against the basic tenets of the service and civility. Civil servants must have empathy and provide a healing touch to society at all times, more so in these difficult times,” the IAS Association posted on Twitter.
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 media 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 reports.