BJD MLA Forces PWD Engineer to Do Sit-ups for ‘Shoddy Road Work’
Meher is seen reprimanding the engineer in the video, asking him to do 100 sit-ups in the middle of the road.
The police on Friday, 7 June registered a case against BJD MLA in Odisha Saroj Kumar Meher for forcing a Public Works Department (PWD) engineer to do sit ups in public on Thursday.
A video of Meher, the newly elected BJD MLA from Patnagarh in Odisha ‘forcing’ the junior engineer to do sit-ups for shoddy road construction work in his constituency had gone viral on social media.
In the purported video, Meher is seen reprimanding the engineer and asking him to do 100 sit-ups in the middle of the road.
The legislator reportedly visited Belpada block in Bolangir district on Wednesday, 5 June where locals complained of poor quality of Mandal-Belpada bypass construction work.
Meher then allegedly threatened the Public Works Department (PWD) engineer with "mob thrashing", following which the government employee was seen doing sit-ups on the road.
The junior engineer is seen apologising for his “laxity” in performing duties, but the Patnagarh MLA was in no mood to listen.
‘MLA Asked Executive Engineer to Slap Me:’
The engineer also claimed that the legislator had even asked an executive engineer to slap him, even as the police registered a case against the lawmaker.
After returning home, the junior engineer claimed he was forced to do sit-ups by the MLA, who also asked an executive engineer to slap him in the presence of villagers.
“The MLA asked my executive engineer to slap me in the presence of all. The executive engineer might have slapped to save me from the angry people who complained of poor quality of road construction work,” the junior engineer said.
Engineer’s Family Lodges Complaint, Demands Strict Action Against MLA
The engineer's wife lodged a complaint with the police against Meher on Thursday, accusing him of publicly humiliating her husband after calling him out of his home on Wednesday.
"We have registered a case against the MLA at Patnagarh Police Station after proper verification. The case has been registered under different sections of the IPC and SC, ST Atrocity Act," Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) of Patnagarh Suresh Nayak told PTI.
Asked about the allegation of kidnapping of the junior engineer, the SDPO said, “We have traced him and handed him over to his family. He was located at a place between Kantabanji and Khariar. He had gone there with friends and was not kidnapped as alleged by the wife.”
The family members and relatives of the junior engineer have demanded immediate arrest and stringent action against the MLA for his "highhandedness". The Bolangir District Adivasi Manch has also demanded immediate arrest of the lawmaker.
District Collector Arindam Dakua, meanwhile, said action will be taken after Patnagarh Sub-collector files a report in the matter.
“I have sought a factual report from Patnagarh Sub-collector on the incident. Any action will be taken based on the Sub-collector's report,” Dakua said.
People Would Have Harmed Engineer Otherwise, Says MLA, Tenders Apology
Meher tendered an apology for his actions, saying, “Locals were angry over poor road construction work and demanded action. As situation was out of my control, I had to ask the official to do sit-ups,” Odisha TV reported.
"I am sorry for the incident. But, I was compelled to ask the engineer to do sit-ups in the wake of public resentment. People were angry over the poor quality of road construction and they could have harmed the engineer if I did not ask him to do sit-ups," Meher told reporters in Bolangir.
Odisha BJP, Congress Slam BJD
The alleged "rowdism" also triggered a row with the opposition BJP coming down heavily on the BJD government and demanding immediate arrest of the lawmaker and the Congress condemning the incident.
Senior BJP leader KV Singhdeo, who was defeated by Meher in the recent election, said, "The incident proves the kind of people the BJD has chosen as its MLAs."
Meher, a first-time MLA, defeated Singhdeo by a margin of over 11,000 votes.
BJP’s Odisha unit secretary Lekhasri Samantasinghar hit out at Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for being silent on the episode.
Senior Congress leaders, including MLA from Bolangir Narasingha Mishra, said it appeared that the BJD legislator had taken the law into his hands.
"If it is true, then it can be said that the MLA has taken law into his hands. I condemn his action," Mishra said.
Works Minister Prafulla Mallick, who did not comment on the MLA's act, said considering the resentment among the people, quality of the road construction works will be examined in the area.
Executive Engineer LN Mishra said the bypass construction work was underway.
"We will look into the complains and make rectifications if there is a concern over the quality of construction," he added.
(With inputs from PTI and Odisha TV)
(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)
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