In a rare show of Gandhigiri by a bureaucrat, Praveen Kumar hit himself with a shoe at the Sikandarpur-Bristol Chowk in Gurgaon around 11pm on Sunday.
Kumar, 52, a homeopathy practitioner and Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda) administrator, wanted to pacify an angry crowd while leading a demolition drive.
Not a faceless babu in Gurgaon, Kumar is known to be on the road early in the morning every day, booking people for even misusing water.
On Sunday night, he arrived at the spot with other Huda officials to carry out a court order to demolish illegal constructions on a 500-yard stretch.
"I told the crowd that my intention was clear. This drive is being conducted under a court order, but they were not ready to listen."
As the crowd, mostly local shopkeepers, grew restive, Kumar sensed danger and took off his shoes and hit himself. He also touched the feet of the people around. And all this while, a huge police force surrounded him.
"My aim was to remove unauthorised constructions, and not to hurt people's sentiments. I didn't do any thing wrong as it was the only way to prove my innocence."
Eyewitnesses said that before taking the shoe in hand, he refused to listen to the shop-owners' objections, nor did he take calls from the political brass.
Later, Kumar spent the night on the floor of a half-demolished building and began his work early Monday morning. Till late Sunday night, the locals tried to soften him with sweets and gifts, but he refused.