By Chandrakant Naidu Bhopal, Jan 20 : The Madhya Pradesh bureaucracy and the police are caught in the ruling-opposition parties crossfire over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
If they act against protesters they are accused of high-handedness, if they don’t they are blamed for negligence.
After Sunday’s violent confrontation, involving Rajgarh District Magistrate Nidhi Nivedita and her deputy with activists, defying restrictive orders under section 144, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) here on Monday called for intensifying the stir.
The BJP continues to be offensive, with party spokesman Lokendra Parashar saying the Collector was mentally unstable and needed treatment, or she was acting at the ruling party’s instance to crush a democratic agitation.
The Kamal Nath government has opposed the CAA passed by Parliament.
Video clips of the Sunday’s administration-agitators confrontation at Biaora that went viral showed Nidhi Nivedita “slapping” a man and Additional Collector Priya Verma being pulled by hair.
Trying to maximise the mileage from the 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 the FIR lodged against the Collector and if it’s not registered, we are going to move the court.”
The Collector, on the other hand, has blamed the agitators for provocative acts. “I am saddened at the politicisation of the incident,” she said.
She said permission to the anti-CAA rally was cancelled at the last-minute following intelligence inputs about possible violence. The administration convinced protesters to put off the rally.
The pro-CAA rally was also denied permission in view of the Republic Day preparations.
Khujner town of the district had witnessed communal flare-up during the R-Day events last year.
Despite agreeing to cancel the rally, the activists assembled unlawfully and began raising inflammatory slogans. One of them, overly active to provoke trouble, began abusing women officials.
“I just tapped him to dissuade against inciting people. I didn’t slap him though we are empowered to dismiss an unlawful assembly by physical force. I reacted when he hurled abuses at me,” she said.
“Since I had withdrawn permission to the Congress and others twice for holding anti-CAA protests, I didn’t allow the pro-CAA rally to be neutral and fair to both parties,” she said.
The Collector said 124 people have been booked for defying the prohibitory orders under section 188 of IPC. Ten people had been arrested for misbehaving with herself, she added. Five or them were let off later.
“While we were doing our duty, a crowd came from the other side and misbehaved with us,” she said. “Even if I was not a public serving officer, I would have acted against those men who almost tried to molest women,” she said.
Verma said a man pulled her hair from behind, while another kicked her in the waist. “All that (her physical retaliation against some men) happened later”, she said.
MP Minister for Urban Development Jaivardhan Singh who represents the neighbouring Raghogarh constituency, said, “We too have held rallies, taken to the street for protests, but always have followed law.”