An Uttar Pradesh forest department employee has accused Union minister Maneka Gandhi of physical and verbal assault during her visit to the state this weekend, police said on Monday.
The forest department employee, Rooplal, lodged a complaint with Gajraula police in Bareilly, alleging that the Union minister for women and child development slapped him and used “unparliamentary language” following difference of opinion over an incident of forest fire.
Gandhi, who was slammed by activists recently for seeking legalisation of sex determination tests, was in Bareilly to launch three central government schemes. Gandhi had later downplayed the remarks as her “personal” views.
The incident allegedly took place at a forest department check post in Pilibhit, over 250 km from capital Lucknow.
The Union minister represents Pilibhit in the Lok Sabha.
“A probe is on following the complaint by forest employee Rooplal. Further action will depend on the probe findings,” said Ashok Kumar Buddhapriye, inspector at the Gajraula police station.
The minister could not be contacted for her comments despite several attempts.
Asked if an FIR would be registered, Buddhapriye said that it would be decided only on the basis of the probe report.
Sources said the Union minister, who was on her way to Pilibhit, stopped her cavalcade near the Garha check post after noticing a forest fire, allegedly started by forest department employees.
She summoned forest officer Mahesh Chand and Rooplal to inquire about the forest fire.
When both of them denied any fire, she allegedly slapped Rooplal and abused him with unparliamentary language, the sources added.
A member of the minister’s staff, who uses only his first name Kamal, denied the allegations.
“The minister didn’t slap any employee. She only asked them about the cause of the fire in the prohibited forest area. She told the employees that if the fire spread, it would cause heavy damage to wildlife. They should not do so,” said Kamal, who had accompanied Gandhi during the visit.