Officials 'Slapping' BJP Workers: MP High Court Seeks Reply from Govt, Political Blame-game Heats up

Indore/Bhopal: The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Wednesday sought a reply from the state authorities over an incident where government officials allegedly slapped a few BJP workers during a rally in support of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in Rajgarh district.

Justices SC Sharma and Shailendra Shukla of the Indore bench of the high court issued notices to the Chief Secretary, Rajgadh District Collector Nidhi Nivedita and other officials, seeking replies within four weeks.

On Monday, the state police had filed an FIR against two persons for misbehaving with the officers and pulling the deputy collector by her hair during the rally.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Harshvardhan Sharma, a Rajgarh-based lawyer. A video purportedly showing Nivedita and Deputy Collector Priya Verma slapping some BJP workers during a rally in support of the CAA at Biaora in the district on Sunday has gone viral.

Orders prohibiting public gatherings under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) were in force when the rally was held.

The PIL alleged that the collector and her deputy misused their powers and slapped BJP workers who were holding the national flag in their hands, said the petitioner's lawyer Pushyamitra Bhargava.

It requested the court to revoke the powers of executive magistrate accorded to the two officers and order a magisterial inquiry into the incident, Bhargava told reporters.

It also demanded that the prohibitory orders imposed under CrPC section 144, banning protests across the state, be lifted as they violate people's constitutional rights, he said.

Senior BJP leader and former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said an FIR should be filed against the errant officers.

Referring to a recent SC ruling, Chouhan saying no one can be prevented from expressing their views through prohibitory orders. He then left for Rajgarh to meet the party leadership and workers who were slapped.

While claiming the bureaucrats were attacking BJP workers at the behest of the state government, Chouhan said BJP leaders would stage a massive protest in Rajgarh and demand registration of an FIR against the officers.

However, Sports Minister Jitu Patwari said several former BJP legislators with criminal backgrounds were present in the rally taken out on Sunday in Rajgarh. He said Chouhan was trying to back BJP workers who were misbehaving with senior women officers.

“Instead of staging a protest at Rajgarh, the BJP should take out a ‘Kshama Rally’ (rally for forgiveness) for having insulted the women officers,” Patwari said.

The MP Prashasnik Seva Sangh, a welfare association of civil service officers, has also written to Chief Minister Kamal Nath, demanding action against those who assaulted its members.

Meanwhile, a senior BJP leader has stirred a controversy by making an obscene remark about the officers while referring to Sunday’s incident. “The collector feeds milk to Congress workers and slaps those belonging to the BJP,” said former minister Badrilal Yadav while addressing a rally on Tuesday.

(With inputs from PTI)