Raipur, May 23 (PTI) The collector of Chhattisgarh's Surajpur district, Ranbir Sharma, was removed from the post on Sunday after a viral video showed him slapping a man and throwing his mobile phone for alleged COVID-19 norms violation.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel issued instructions for the removal of the 2012-batch IAS officer from the post.
The CM also directed officials to provide a new mobile phone to the man, identified as Aman Mittal (23), as his handset was damaged in the incident that took place on Saturday.
There were several other videos of Saturday's drive in which the collector and other officials were purportedly seen making people do sit-ups for allegedly violating the lockdown norms in Surajpur.
In one such video, another official was also seen slapping a man while asking him to do sit-ups at the same site where Sharma had slapped Mittal.
The collector along with some policemen had stopped Mittal, who was on his motorcycle, on a road in Surajpur where the coronavirus-induced lockdown is in force.
In the video, the man can be seen showing a piece of paper and something on his mobile phone to the collector, who takes the device and throws it on the ground.
Sharma is then seen slapping the man and encouraging two policemen, who rush to the spot and start hitting the man with sticks.
The collector's act drew sharp criticism on social media platforms with people demanding his removal and registration of an FIR against him. The collector later apologised for his act.
Chief Minister Baghel in a tweet in Hindi on Sunday said, “Through social media, the case of misbehaviour of Surajpur Collector Ranbir Sharma with a young man has come to my notice. It is very sad and condemnable. In Chhattisgarh, such acts will not be tolerated at all.” “Instructions have been given to remove Sharma with immediate effect,' he added.
In another tweet, Baghel said such conduct was not acceptable by any officer during his/her administrative tenure.
“I am upset with this incident. I apologise to the young man and his family,” the CM tweeted.
Soon after the CM's directive, the state government transferred Sharma to the Mantralaya (secretariat) in Nava Raipur as joint secretary (waiting). The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Raipur Zila Panchayat, Gaurav Kumar Singh, has been appointed as the new collector of Surajpur.
Meanwhile, the IAS Association strongly condemned Sharma's act.
“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,” the association tweeted.
While apologising for his behaviour, Sharma in a video message on Saturday night said he never had any intention to disrespect or belittle the person (Mittal).
In this pandemic situation, Surajpur district along with the entire state has been facing irreparable loss of lives. 'We all employees of the state government are striving hard to tackle this problem,' he had said.
'The man was heading on a motorcycle and did not stop when I and the police personnel there asked him to do so. We were likely to get hurt,' Sharma said.
According to him, when the man was stopped, he told them that he was out to get vaccinated (against COVID-19) and showed a paper which was not related to vaccination. Later, he changed his statement and said he was going to see his grandmother.
'He misbehaved and in anger, I slapped him. I apologise for my behaviour,” Sharma had said.
In 2015, Sharma was caught by the state's Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) for allegedly taking bribe from a revenue officer when he was posted as the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) in Bhanupratappur town of Kanker district.
He was not arrested then, but was transferred from Bhanupratappur to the Mantralaya at Nava Raipur as under secretary.
Meanwhile, a police official said a case has also been registered against Mittal under the Epidemic Diseases Act for allegedly violating the COVID-19 norms. PTI TKP VT GK GK