The boy in the controversial video involving MP senior minister Kusum Mehdele has now been identified as 12-year-old tribal, a native of village Hathupur on outskirts of Panna (under Brijpura police station) and he has claimed to local media persons that he was indeed kicked by the minister when he begged her for money.
Madhya Pradesh minister Kusum Mahdele, who was caught on camera purportedly kicking a boy, on Monday denied the charge even as Congress and AAP demanded her resignation over the issue.
Talking to HT, the minister said that a ‘over-drunk man’ had fallen at her feet and she had ignored him to move ahead.
The district collector of Panna, Shivrnarayan Chouhan however told HT that though they have identified the boy, they have not yet been able to contact him. The collector said that the boy is a resident in locality under Brijpura police station and he has heard that the boy was prone to substance abuse. “But these are only hearsay till now and we can only confirm things after talking to him,” Chouhan said.
Local sources meanwhile said the boy is son of a manual labourer from Hathupur and he keeps roaming in the area aimlessly often. Sources also said that there is no information that the boy was addicted to any drug or alcohol.
Mehdele was caught on camera allegedly kicking a boy on Sunday after he begged her for money in the state’s Panna district. The video -- shot while Mehdele was entering her car -- showed the boy bowing at Mehdele’s feet and the minister hitting him. She then left the spot in her vehicle.
The video, which went viral shortly after the incident, also showed a security personnel in Mehdele’s entourage pushing the boy and asking him to leave the spot.
Speaking to some local media persons the boy claimed that he had been kicked when he approached the minister.
Demanding that Mahdele be sacked, senior Congress leader Manish Tewari said, “Such a minister should be sacked from the government. Those who can be insensitive towards children... can go around kicking children, they should have no place in the government.”
“The unfortunate reality is that the government -- the BJP-led NDA at the Centre and the state dispensation -- are extremely immune to criticism. Therefore, you will find out that no action will be taken,” he added.
The MP Youth Congress also held a demonstration and burnt effigy of the minister. Youth Congress state president Kunal Choudhary said the minister should be immediately removed from her post for her ‘inhuman conduct’.
“Case of harassment of children and violation of human rights should be registered against her. We would demonstrate against her throughout state till she is removed and if it not done in one week we would demonstrate against the CM too,” Choudhary told HT.
The state unit of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) submitted a memorandum to the MP Human Rights Commission demanding strict action against the minister.
“We are also demanding that the chief minister should remove her from the post. This conduct is total violation of basic human rights and a child’s dignity,” state spokesman of AAP Akshay Hunka said.
Mehdele told HT that she has already spoken to the chief minister and given her side of the story. “It was totally misrepresented by the media. I was moving to my car after participating in a sanitation campaign programme at the (Panna) bus stand when this drunken man fell at my feet. I could sense he was drunk and therefore I moved forward ignoring him. There is no question of kicking him,” the minister said.
When queried whether it was a ‘boy’ or ‘man’, the minister said that “he was a 17-18 year old well built (hatta-katta/tagda) man who was drunk. The collector, superintendent of police and (BJP) party office bearers were with me. Some people later told me this guy keeps roaming on the bus stand in a drunken state. I did not even see his face,” the minister said.
Meanwhile, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Monday appealed for “sensitivity” towards others amid a raging controversy over his cabinet colleague Kusum Mahdele purportedly kicking a boy who was begging a rupee from her.
“The Minister (Mahdele) has given her clarification on the issue...(we) will see and probe it to clear the situation. Everyone should remain sensitive in such matters,” the chief minister said.
After the AAP complaint, the MPHRC took cognizance of the matter and issued notices to the principal secretary of women and child development department and the collector and SP of Panna district, seeking report from them on the incident within a week.
(With inputs PTI)