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DM’s post after Kasganj violence: Officials divided as government plans action

Bareilly district magistrate Raghvendra Vikram Singh on his Facebook post had targeted right-wing organisations for inciting communal tension.

india Updated: Jan 31, 2018 23:13 IST
Umesh Raghuvanshi
A bus set on fire by a group of people who went on a rampage after cremation of a young man killed on Friday during the Tiranga bike rally, in Kasganj on Saturday.
A bus set on fire by a group of people who went on a rampage after cremation of a young man killed on Friday during the Tiranga bike rally, in Kasganj on Saturday. (PTI file)

A sharp division persists in the corridors of power on the issue of the state government contemplating action against Bareilly district magistrate (DM) Raghvendra Vikram Singh for his Facebook post targeting right-wing organisations for inciting communal tension.

Singh had questioned the raising of anti-Pakistan slogans in Muslim-dominated localities.

A senior officer said the state government would seek an explanation from the DM.

“Though he has apologised for writing the post (and has also deleted it), the government will seek an explanation to give a strong message to the officers making comments on social media,” the officer added.

Government spokesman and minister for energy Shrikant Sharma said on Tuesday officers should desist from making such comments on a public platform.

Serving and retired IAS officers, however, appear divided over Singh expressing his views.

Many officers feel the DM did not violate the service rules and did not say anything against the state government’s policy.

“The All-India Services (Conduct) Rules do not bar officers from expressing their views on social media. A Facebook post is meant for friends. In his post, the officer only shared his opinion and experience on an issue,” a senior officer said on condition of anonymity.

“He has not said anything against any government policy. Is Tiranga Yatra or shouting of slogans in a particular area a part of government’s policy? If so, the government should clarify. Officers can’t be expected to pursue government’s hidden agenda,” he said.

“Both the Centre and the state government encourage officers to remain active on the social media. Most of the officers have been doing so. As Bareilly’s DM, Singh may have used his Facebook post either to perform his official duty or to share his personal experiences. His recent post did not target any authority. He is entitled to his views and share them with his Facebook friends,” another officer said.

Some even quoted past instances of IAS officers expressing their views on Facebook.

A senior officer referred to the Akhilesh Yadav government’s decision to seek an explanation from former IAS officer Surya Pratap Singh for his Facebook posts raising issues of public interest, launching a crusade against copying in UP Board examinations and corruption.

Singh, however, did not give any explanation and sought voluntary retirement from service. “A Facebook post is made to a group of friends and does not violate any rules,” said Singh.

A retired UP cadre IAS officer and former union secretary Vijay Shankar Pandey, the brain behind Uttar Pradesh IAS Association’s exercise of introspection launched in mid-nineties, said there was nothing wrong in speaking the truth.

“Speaking the truth does not violate any law. If it does, the law is bad and a bad law deserves to be changed,” said Pandey, president of Lok Gathbandhan Party.

Some have reservations on officials airing their views on a public platform. “There is nothing wrong (in it) but they should refrain from making controversial remarks,” an officer said.