January 29, 2017 5:17:13 am
Two persons who allegedly tried to disrupt an official event, held on Wednesday to declare a panchayat in Khargone district as Open Defecation Free (ODF), were arrested by the police. Gambhir Singh and Lakhan Singh were taken into custody after the surfacing of a video, in which the former is seen questioning District Collector Ashok Varma about the futility of the programme in Bodhgaon village when many houses lacked toilets. In the video, Varma is heard warning Gambhir: “Do thappad padenge sab thik ho jayega (two slaps and everything will be all right).”
The incident came to light when the duo were released from custody on Thursday even as the police claimed that they belonged to rival political parties. “Had we not taken them into custody, BJP supporters would have attacked them for repeated disruptions,’’ a police official said. District Collector Varma said that a group of people had repeatedly tried to disrupt the event and interrupted officials at various locations inside the village while the programme was being conducted. Varma said he did not order the arrests and that the police action followed after he left the village.
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“I did warn him (Gambhir) but the video appeared to have been shot as part of a conspiracy to provoke me into saying something drastic. Otherwise, why would I warn someone on camera,’’ the collector said, referring to the interview he was giving to a local journalist when Gambhir Singh intervened one more time. Gambhir had also raised doubts over the event, claiming that the programme was an eyewash as the panchayat office had remained closed for two years.
On his part, Varma alleged that the interview appeared to have been planned to give some disgruntled and politically-oriented villagers an opportunity to question him. As per official records, 418 out of 600 panchayats in the district had reached ODF targets, Varma said. Old and non-functional toilets were rebuilt in some places. Home Minister Bhupendra Singh has sought a detailed report on the incident. Congress state chief Arun Yadav said the police action reminded one of British Raj.
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