Usually, incidents from Tripura seldom get widely reported in the mainstream media or become a major talking point on social media. However, all that changed on Wednesday with the video of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Dr Shailesh Kumar Yadav’s alleged high-handedness while trying to enforce night curfew in the state capital Agartala going viral. Tirpura West DM was among the top trends on Twitter India through Tuesday after EastMojo reported the story on April 27.
In the video, Dr Yadav can be seen hitting a priest and groom and ordering the arrest of guests present for violating prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC. He can also be heard telling the cops accompanying him to seal the popular Manikya Court and Gulab Bagan banquet halls for a year as well as recommending suspension of the officer-in-charge of the West Agartala police station.
The video and the accompanying report involving the bureaucrat was shared and then re-shared countless times on thousands of WhatsApp groups across the country.
Both the Hashtags #Tripura DM and #The DM featured in the top-10 list on the microblogging site from very early in the morning. The incident’s video set the social media on fire with a few Twitterati lauding the strict action taken by him in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic, while most others sought his dismissal for what they described as a ‘Rambo Act’.
Twitter user @kalpshah13 said, “#Tripura DM looks educated but his behaviour is not … Instead creating scenes at wedding ceremony, He would have guided them sophisticated way — power blind #TripuraDm …he forgot, He is public servant, if overburdened, please #resign relieve him”
In response, user @KalamKeSipahi19 wrote, “Please stop propaganda against an IAS officer who is performing his duties 24*7, he is witnessing long queues of dead bodies, pleading people for just one bed in hospitals. Yes he shouldn’t slapped the priest rest he did right with this crazy family #IamwithDMTripura”
Controversial author Devdutt Pattanaik, who is regularly trolled for his sharp comments, noted, “IIT professor abuses SC/ST violating code of conduct. Hindutva = Let us learn to forgive. Tripura DM rudely stops wedding that violates COVID curfew. Hindutva = He needs to be suspended. Vivek-a-munda!!!”
In response, US-based commentator Professor Saswati Sarkar retorted, “Tripura DM physically assaulted two, that’s way beyond rudeness and verbal abuses. Those assaulted were the Brahmin Purohit and the groom. Does the caste of the purohit make things better?”
Should Have Avoided High Handedness
Speaking to EastMojo, New Delhi-based industrial safety professional, Saumitra Sen who has roots in Tripura, opined, “The officer-on duty appeared to have made light of the prohibitory orders. The district magistrate did what was expected of him. Well-educated people are often the first to flout the rules in our country!”
He felt that the action would send a strong message to potential lawbreakers amid the second wave of the COVID-19 virus.
US-based director of contracts with a Fortune-500 company, Amrita Bhattacharyya, told the portal, “I just don’t understand the furore on the Tripura official’s conduct. Leaving emotions aside, look at it objectively. The act of the bride and groom’s families was one of reckless disregard that put the entire society at great risk. Then they also tried to obstruct the law enforcement officers from fulfilling their duty. This alone authorises law enforcement to use force.”
However, most of those who came out in Dr Yadav’s support felt that he should have avoided manhandling people.
One of the visitors to Dr Yadav’s office in Agartala a few days earlier recounted his office in Agartala. The bureaucrat was very particular about staff and visitors following the prescribed social distancing protocols, the visitor said.
“During our meeting, the crying of a baby was heard. He immediately made inquiries with his staff as to why an infant had been allowed inside the office building during the COVID-19 period,” the visitor reminisced.
“Notwithstanding his sense of commitment, the officer was not dealing with thugs but regular middle-class people. Thus, slapping them around should have been avoided. Let us not forget that it was his office that had granted permission for the wedding in the first place. Then by asking his staff to shoot the video of the raid, he was seen trying to intimidate normal people by publicly naming and shaming them,” he added.
Dr. Yadav has already offered an apology for disrupting the wedding stating that he didn’t intend to hurt anyone’s feeling with his actions.