Bureaucrats caught in the crossfire over CAA, NRCtext_fields
Bhopal: With the conflict over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) turning into a full-blown war between the BJP and other parties, civil and uniformed officials are caught in the crossfire.
In Madhya Pradesh, the past and the current ruling political parties have squared up against each other and have put young bureaucrats under intense pressure.
Television channels are taking sides without cross-checking their information on Sunday's incident in Rajgarh district.
The bureaucrats are damned if they act against protesters and damned if they don't. They are accused of high-handedness. If they don't, they are blamed for negligence.
After Sunday's violent encounter involving Rajgarh District Magistrate Nidhi Nivedita and her deputy with activists defying restrictive orders under section 144, the state BJP on Monday called for intensifying fight against the government.
Party spokesperson Lokendra Parashar went as far as saying that the collector was mentally unstable and needed treatment or she was acting at the instance of the ruling party to crush a democratic agitation. The Kamal Nath government has opposed the CAA passed by Parliament recently.
Former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh and current Minister Sajjan Singh Verma have jumped into the social media war to support the valour of bureaucrats.
Video clips of Sunday's protest at Biaora that went viral showed Nidhi Nivedita "slapping" a man and additional collector Priya Verma being pulled by hair while taking on some BJP workers.
Trying to maximise the mileage from Sunday's incident former chief minister Shivraj Singh on Monday tweeted, "The Rajgarh incident will prove the last nail in the coffin of the state government."
"We are going to build up a massive movement against it. We are going to get First Information Report (FIR) lodged against the (Rajgarh) Collector and if it is not registered, we are going to move a court," said the former Chief Minister.
Collector Nidhi Nivedita, on the other hand, blamed the agitators for provocative acts. "I am saddened at the politicization of the incident," she said.
She said permission to an anti-CAA rally was cancelled at the last-minute following intelligence inputs about possible escalation of violence. We convinced those protesters to drop the rally even after they had made full preparations.
The pro-CAA rally was also denied permission in view of the preparations for the Republic Day.
The district had witnessed communal flareup during the R-Day celebrations last year in Khujner town. The elements involved in last year's violence were keen for fresh trouble this year too.
Despite agreeing not to hold out a rally they assembled unlawfully and began raising inflammatory slogans. One of them was overly active to provoke trouble and began abusing women officials.
"I just tapped him to dissuade against inciting people. I did not slap him though we are empowered to dismiss an unlawful assembly by physical force. I reacted when he hurled at me," she said.
"Since I had withdrawn permission to Congress leaders and others twice for holding anti-CAA protests, I did not allow the pro-CAA rally to be neutral and fair to both parties," she said.
"I got information after the pro-CAA rally of Sunday, some people wanted to hold anti-new citizenship law rally in this district which is communal sensitive," she contended.
"I have to maintain law and order in view of Republic Day," Nivedita said.
She said 124 people have been booked for defying the prohibitory orders under section 188 of IPC (for defying an order promulgated by a public servant).
Collector Nivedita said ten persons had been arrested for misbehaving with herself and the collector. Five or them were let off late.
"While we were doing our duty, a crowd came from the other side and misbehaved with us," she had said. Even if I was not a public serving officer, I would have acted against those men who almost tried to molest women.
Verma said a man pulled her hair from back while another kicked her in the waist. 'All that (her physical retaliation against some men) happened later'.
Madhya Pradesh minister for Urban Development Jaivardhan Singh who represents the neighbouring Raghogarh constituency, said, "we have also held rallies and taken to the street for protests but, have adhered to law."