New Delhi: The district collector of Rajgarh in Madhya Pradesh and her deputy on Sunday could be seen dragging and slapping demonstrators supporting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), allegedly after two men ‘misbehaved’ with them.
Video clips of the protest, organised by the BJP, show collector Nidhi Nivedita slapping a man and additional collector Priya Verma taking on some men who were part of the crowd. Unidentified persons can also be seen pulling the additional collector’s hair.
#WATCH Madhya Pradesh: A protestor pulls hair of Rajgarh Deputy Collector Priya Verma, after she hits BJP workers and drags them. The clash broke out during a demonstration in support of #CAA. pic.twitter.com/7ckpZaFBkJ
— ANI (@ANI) January 19, 2020
Speaking to PTI, Verma said that she took on ‘unruly’ protestors, who defied prohibitory orders to hold a rally in Biaora town supporting the CAA, only after some men ‘misbehaved’. The rally was taken out despite prohibitory orders in place in Rajgarh since Saturday night, and repeated pleas to the saffron party to call it off fell on deaf ears, some officials said.
Additional collector Verma said on Sunday night that some men from the crowd misbehaved with her and the collector. She denied that they resorted to high-handed behaviour, as alleged by the opposition party.
“Prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC are in place in the district. While we were doing our duty, a crowd came from the other side and misbehaved with us,” she said.
Verma said a man pulled her hair from and another kicked her in the waist. “All that (she taking on some men) happened after it. Despite our requests to the protesters to sit down, they did not pay any heed,” she claimed.
Verma denied that the police cane-charged the crowd to disperse them.
“We have lodged a complaint with the police against two men who misbehaved with us. One of them has been identified, while the other is yet to be identified. But we have his picture,” she said.
District collector Nidhi Nivedita told ANI that the protestors “tore the clothes and pulled the hair of officers deployed in the region”. “I was surprised at how little [the] law meant to them. They were kicking the sub-district magistrate (SDM) and assaulting officials,” she claimed.
According to the Indian Express, the BJP workers accused the police of “attacking” them. The collector rejected the claim, saying that the incident has been videographed. “Action will be taken against those involved in the violence once they are identified,” she told the newspaper.
Reacting to the incident, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan called it a “black letter day” in democracy. “Collector madam, which law book you have read empowers you to beat up and drag citizens protesting peacefully,” Chouhan said in a tweet.
The Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh is among several of those ruled by opposition parties that have rejected the CAA. Massive, people-led demonstrations have been held against the Act across the country because of fears that the Act, in conjuction with exercises such as the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR) will result in the citizenship of Muslims being stripped.
(With PTI inputs)