BHOPAL: District collector of Rajgarh in Madhya Pradesh and her deputy on Sunday took on 'unruly' protesters who defied prohibitory orders to hold a rally in Biaora town supporting the new citizenship law, video clips of which have gone viral.
The rally was organised by the BJP.
The video clips purportedly show collector Nidhi Nivedita slapping a man and additional collector Priya Verma taking on some men who were part of the crowd.
The rally was taken out despite prohibitory orders in place in Rajgarh since Saturday night, and repeated pleas to the saffron party to call it off fell on deaf ears, some officials said.
Additional Collector Verma told PTI on Sunday night that some men from the crowd misbehaved with herself and the collector.
She denied that they resorted to high-handed behaviour, as alleged by the Opposition party.
"Prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC are in place in the district. While we were doing our duty, a crowd came from the other side and misbehaved with us," she said.
Verma said a man pulled her hair from back while another kicked her in the waist.
"All that (she taking on some men) happened after it. Despite our requests to the protesters to sit down, they did not pay any heed," she claimed.
#WATCH Madhya Pradesh: A protestor pulls hair of Rajgarh Deputy Collector Priya Verma, after she hits BJP workers and drags them. The clash broke out during a demonstration in support of #CAA. pic.twitter.com/7ckpZaFBkJ— ANI (@ANI) January 19, 2020
Verma denied that police resorted to cane charge to disperse the crowd.
"We have lodged a complaint with the police against two men for misbehaved with us. One of them has been identified as Singh while another is yet to be identified, but we have his picture," she said.
However, the BJP hit out at the two bureaucrats and claimed 'Hitlerism' would not be tolerated in Madhya Pradesh.
Reacting to the incident, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said it was the "black letter day" in democracy.
"Collector madam, which law book you have read empowers you to beat up and drag citizens protesting peacefully," Chouhan said in a tweet.
He further tweeted that the Congress-led government should hear it clear and loud that "Hitlerism with people of MP would not be tolerated at any cost".
Hashtag #Terminate_Priya_Verma and #I_support_PriyaVerma is trending on Twitter as Netizens were divided on social media, with some supporting and others against the female official.
A user criticising Priya Verma tweeted, "We demand #Terminate_priya_verma from her services as such officers are dangerous for our integrity & sovereignty."
Another wrote, "She should join Congress party and give award for chamchagiri of party. SHAME ON SUCH DM...."
A post read, "Being at Administrative Post, DC has no right to beat the protestors. To implement law and order is the duty of the Police. But here Ms. #PriyaVerma has herself started beating protestors and all for chanting 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai'."
"What an utter shameful and unprofessional way of tackling the situation. Unnecessary sheroism" read one post.
However, other Twitter users came out in support of Priya Verma and wrote, "If this was done by #AntiCAA_NRC_NPR protesters in #UP then the Sanghi police have shot them. Salute to Priya Verma. #WeSupportPriyaVerma"
A Tweeple remarked, "Shame On BJP & RSS Workers For Misbehaving With Deputy Collector #PriyaVerma In #IndiaSupportCAA Rally In #Rajgarh In #MadhyaPradesh. Today, the officer won the heart, this brave, honest."
"BJP Goons Pulled Hair Of Rajgarh Deputy collector priya Verma. Bjp Member took out pro-CAA Support Rally without permission, Dy collector Tried to stop them and sanghi Goons attacked on her" wrote another user.