The alleged slapping of a Public Works Department (PWD) executive engineer by Datia district magistrate Prakash Chandra Jangre has snowballed into a major controversy, with the state engineers’ associations demanding immediate suspension of the DM and the SP. Jangre and other senior district officials have, however, refuted the charge.
The MP Engineering Service Association (MPESA), a body of gazetted officers, on Tuesday strongly condemned the alleged incident and submitted a memorandum addressed to the chief minister, demanding the suspension of Jangre and Datia superintendent of police Irshad Wali. The association threatened to launch an agitation if their demand was not met.
The president of the Madhya Pradesh Diploma Engineers Association (E&M), Dilip Gupta, said the public display of bureaucratic high-handedness would not be tolerated. He said the engineering associations would take the matter to its logical end.
According to PWD sources and local media reports, Jangre on Monday instructed the engineers to complete the barricading of the Kheyri Mata temple approach road by the evening, expecting a huge turnout of devotees at the temple on “Saptami” (the seventh day of Navratri festival i.e. Tuesday).
However, citing the shortage of labour workforce, PWD executive engineer KK Singare and sub-engineer Sohanlal Gupta told the DM that the work could be done by Tuesday morning only.
Apparently irked by the reply, Jangre allegedly slapped Singare and manhandled Gupta. Thereafter, the two engineers were allegedly detained by police, but released two hours later. After the release, Singare told journalists in Datia that police forced them to sign an apology letter.
Singare told HT that he was deeply pained and feeling humiliated by the slapping incident.
“I came to Datia on transfer just about a month ago. Since my joining here, I have been doing miscellaneous works other than my actual department assignments. Jobs such as barricading and erection of drop gates don’t figure in the government manual but we were forced to carry these tasks under direction from Jangre,” he alleged.
While Singare did not attend office on Tuesday, sources said PWD chief engineer Rajiv Sharma had given additional charge of Datia to executive engineer Gyanvardhan Mishra
The DM has, meanwhile, dismissed the allegations as baseless. He said he had only scolded the officials for their “apathy” towards work. “You can find out or enquire about the incident from anyone,” Jangre told HT over phone.
The SP, too, came in support of Jangre and denied the slapping incident. He also said the PWD officers were instructed to visit the civil lines police station to draw the barricading plan in coordination with the police.
Divisional commissioner KK Khare said Jangre had only pushed the officers in anger for negligence.
“Keeping in view the tragic incidents that took place earlier at Ratangarh in 2006 and 2013 during the festival season, the administration wanted adequate security arrangements in place this year to control the swelling crowd. The negligence shown by PWD officers, especially during Navratri festival when large crowds of devotees, were expected at Kheyri Mata temple possibly infuriated the collector. He, however, should have observed restraint in dealing with the situation,” said Khare.