NELLORE: A physically-challenged woman employee of the AP Tourism Hotel at Dargamitta in Nellore city was recently assaulted by the hotel’s deputy manager in front of the other staff because she advised him to wear a face mask. Though the incident took place Saturday last, it came to light on Tuesday, when CCTV footage of the assault went viral. The deputy manager, C Bhaskar, of the Nellore divisional office, was suspended by AP Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) managing director C Pravin Kumar, on the instructions of Tourism Minister M Srinivasa Rao.
The Dargamitta police registered cases under Sections 324 and 355 of the IPC and arrested Bhaskar Rao on Tuesday. The woman, Cherukuri Usha Rani, is a senior assistant working on a contract basis with the Tourism Department for the past 20 years, the police said, adding that she was transferred to Nellore six years ago. Her h u s b a n d wo rk s in Bengaluru. The accused was allegedly pulled up by Usha Rani’s husband Veeragandham for s p re a d i n g r umours. “Bhaskar Rao bore a grudge against Usha Rani since then,” the police said.
Request to put on mask infuriated manager
Around 11.25 am on June 27, when Bhaskar was talking to senior accountant Narasimha Rao, Usha Rani advised him to wear a mask. Infuriated, Bhaskar rushed to her, abused her verbally, and dragged her from her chair by her hair. As Usha Rani fell, he started punching her and then took a broken piece of a wooden chair and used it to hit her on the face and head. Other staff - Swarna Latha, Hymavathi, Narasimha Rao and Ravi - came to her rescue and took Bhaskar away.
“I only asked Bhaskar to wear a mask in the office. He argued with me and beat me with an arm of a chair in front of my colleagues. I reported the issue to senior officials in the department, but, they did not respond. I then lodged a complaint with the Dargamitta Police on Saturday itself,” said Usha Rani. Responding on the issue, Director General of Police Gautam Sawang said, “Crimes against women are unacceptable. We condemn the incident and action has been taken against the accused. The Nellore police registered a case as soon as they got to know about the incident.”
Sawang added that the Disha police station in Nellore is investigating the case. AP Women’s Commission chairperson Vasireddy Padma, who rushed to Nellore on hearing about the incident, interacted with Usha Rani and promised her justice. Stating that the accused had already been arrested, she told the media that the Commission viewed the incident as a serious lapse on the part of officials, and said they directed the police to register cases under the Disha Act.
She further said the police were told to ensure the accused is punished in 21 days. APTDC MD C Pravin Kumar, said in a statement that Bhaskar was suspended immediately after Usha’s complaint was received. “Disciplinary proceedings are being contemplated, and as per orders from the Tourism Department, Bhaskar should not leave the HQ without permission.” TDP’s Nara Lokesh demanded that the government not just suspend Bhaskar but also take stern action against him.