Yuva - India

Chhatisgarh: Indian Administrative Officer turned Indian Administrative ‘Hooligan’

On Saturday, a video started doing the rounds on twitter which showed a hapless and shameful happening. This video was from the Surajpur District in the State of Chhatisgarh. In the video, it can be seen that the District Collector, Mr. Ranbir Sharma, 2012 batch IAS Officer, directed the police personnel present at the scene to hit a boy with canes and then threw the boy’s mobile phone on the road to smash it as according to Mr. Sharma, the boy was recording a video. The IAS Officer then slapped the youth right in the face. The Collector was seen ordering the policeman to register an FIR against the boy. This tiny clip is a testimony to how an Indian Administrative Officer turned into an Indian Administrative Hooligan in broad daylight.

Another instance was also reported wherein a 13 year old boy was beaten by the policemen because he had ventured out in order to buy medicines from a druggist. On the other hand, the youth who can be seen in the video, had reportedly moved out of the house to carry a lunchbox for his grandmother and father to a hospital where his grandmother was admitted.

Soon after the video surfaced, Shashank Shekhar Jha, Legal Editor, GoaChronicle took note of the video and shared it, urging the concerned authorities to take stringent and appropriate action against the Collector. Among the tagged handles in his tweet was the official account of Mr. Priyank Kanoongo who is the Chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), who then took cognizance of the matter.

At this juncture, it becomes pertinent to note that the same IAS Officer, Mr. Ranbir Sharma was caught taking bribe back in 2015. Back in those days, Mr. Sharma was the sub- divisional magistrate of Bhanupratappur and was arrested for allegedly taking a bribe of 10, 000 INR from a patwari. (Reference: Times of India)

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/raipur/caught-taking-bribe-chhattisgarh-ias-officer-gets-transfer/articleshow/48378051.cms

After massive social media outrage against the behaviour of the IAS Officer, which will tantamount to that of a lout, the official twitter handle of the IAS Association wrote scathingly of the conduct of Mr. Sharma. The tweet said how the IAS Association condemned the Surajpur Collector’s behaviour and how this was not what the basic tenets of civil services taught a candidate. Nevertheless, it can be safely said that this tweet was nothing but window- dressing because no further action was taken and mere condemnations on twitter definitely do not make a difference.

On the other hand, Bhupesh Baghel, Chief Minister Chhatisgarh, took to twitter and conveyed the message of how he got to know of the incident through social media. He added, “The incident is unfortunate and condemnable. No such act will be tolerated in Chhatisgarh. He went on, “Such a conduct on the part of any official at any given point of time during his tenure cannot be condoned.” With his tweets, he informed people that directives to remove Mr. Ranbir Sharma from service with immediate effect had been given out.

https://twitter.com/bhupeshbaghel/status/1396327890640281603
https://twitter.com/bhupeshbaghel/status/1396327894167683073

 

After feeling the heat of what all was transpiring, Mr. Sharma released a video in which he could be seen clarifying that the youth was not a 13 year old as many people had come to believe, rather, he was 23-24 years old and had told the Collector that he was out for getting vaccinated but there was no document with him which could make his claim plausible. As per the Collector, later the youth changed his statement and said that he was going to visit his grandmother. The video made the fact easily fathomable that with what can be called a feeble apology, the IAS Officer was trying to justify his acts by letting everyone know that the youth who was beaten was not a teenager but an adult. Here, it is crucial to understand that age doesn’t matter if you assault an innocent individual. Persecuting an innocent person with your abuse of power stays equally shameless, whether the person is 13, 23 or 53. If he is not guilty of an offence, he cannot be hit by anyone under the sun, be it the Collector of the district.

In another video, the youth who was beaten and his phone slammed on the road can be seen narrating his ordeal. He said, “My grandmother is admitted to a hospital due to COVID-19. I had to take food to her. On my way, I was accompanied by a staffer of a testing lab because my grandmother’s blood sample was to be examined. I had stopped and given money to the staffer. While I was heading back, the Collector asked me to stop. I then tried showing him the receipt I was carrying. At first, he said it was okay. After a moment, I don’t know what happened but he snatched my mobile and threw it on the road. He didn’t even bother to see the receipt, instead ended up slapping me. Then he asked the policemen to beat me up. He even took away my bike’s keys.”

Explaining his helplessness, he mentioned, “If an officer lower in the hierarchy would have done so, the higher ups could have been approached. But now, as the Collector himself has done this, whom do I reach out to?”

In a different video, the 13 year old who was beaten because he had gone out to buy medicines could be seen. He said, “While I was buying the medicines, the Collector reached the spot and asked me as to what I was doing. I answered that I was there to buy drugs. At that very moment, he asked his guards to take the canes out and then hit me with a cane on my leg.”

Appalling to know is that even though the CM himself claimed of the IAS Officer’s removal, it was later revealed that Mr. Sharma was merely transferred to the secretariat as joint secretary. Let alone his removal, the officer has been transferred, technically promoted up in the hierarchy. Such transfers force the citizens of the country the age- old institutions and ways of the authorities. Earlier in 2015, the same officer was given a long rope. Yet again, he has been allowed to have a free run. This is not what can be called the rule of law. Why is it that ‘equality in the eyes of the law’ comes into action only when the offender is a common man? Why is it that an IAS Officer is allowed to misuse his power and everything is then brushed under the rug? It is an unfortunate truth that the rot in our systems run deep, deeper than we can or should tolerate.

Flabbergasting is the revelation of another incident of the same kind, reported from the same district of Chhatisgarh. This time, it was the SDM who could be seen slapping a person and asking him to hold his ears and do sit- ups in order to apologize for his ‘offence’.

The second incident is the epitome of the truth that if you let one offender roam around freely, others pluck courage in no time to follow suit. Why would one even flinch if he continues to see that someone else who violated another individual was merely transferred, or promoted for that matter, before he does the same? This is not how rule of law works. It will not be a shock if the same Mr. Sharma, in the near future, would again be seen hitting an innocent youth, 13 or 23, doesn’t matter. The location will undoubtedly be changed, everything else remaining immutable.

 

DISCLAIMER: This article reflects author’s view point. Goa Chronicle may or may not subscribe to views of the author

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