A day after newly elected Biju Janata Dal's (BJD) Patnagarh MLA Saroj Kumar Meher forced a junior engineer to do sit-ups in public, Odisha police has registered a case against the lawmaker. Meanwhile, the PWD junior engineer claimed that the legislator had even asked an executive engineer to slap him.
"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.
After a video, purportedly showing Meher forcing a tribal-born PWD junior engineer to do sit-ups in public went viral, the lawmaker on Thursday apologised for his action, claiming he did so to assuage public anger.
"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.
However, the engineer's wife lodged a complaint with the police against Meher, first-time MLA from Patnagarh in Bolangir district, 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 over the phone.
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.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party has come down heavily on the BJD government and demanded immediate arrest of the lawmaker.
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.