Bhupesh Baghel, state chief of India's Chhattisgarh, on Sunday ordered the removal of District Chief (District Collector) Ranbir Sharma from Surajpur after a video of him slapping a young man and throwing his phone on the ground went viral. The man was allegedly not complying with COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
"Through social media, the case of misbehaviour against a young man by Surajpur collector Ranbir Sharma has come to my notice. It is very sad and condemnable. In Chhattisgarh, no such act will be tolerated at all. Instructions have been given to remove collector Ranbir Sharma with immediate effect," the state chief tweeted in Hindi.
सोशल मीडिया के माध्यम से सूरजपुर कलेक्टर रणबीर शर्मा द्वारा एक नवयुवक से दुर्व्यवहार का मामला मेरे संज्ञान में आया है।— Bhupesh Baghel (@bhupeshbaghel) May 23, 2021
यह बेहद दुखद और निंदनीय है। छत्तीसगढ़ में इस तरह का कोई कृत्य कतई बर्दाश्त नहीं किया जाएगा।
कलेक्टर रणबीर शर्मा को तत्काल प्रभाव से हटाने के निर्देश दिए हैं।
He further stated that such conduct is not acceptable in the work of any police officer. "I'm upset with this incident and apologise to the victim and his family," he said.
Sharma has faced wide criticism for his actions since Saturday after the video went viral. In the video, a man named Sahil Gupta is seen taking out his identity papers as the district chief approaches him. The senior officer asks for his phone, the man immediately obliges and hands over his cell to Sharma. However, in a fit of rage, the officer slams the phone on the ground before slapping the man.
After slapping the man and nearly destroying his phone, Sharma is seen ordering the police officials to beat the youth yet again. He is also heard rebuking a young man for recording the incident.
Shocking visuals from Surajpur in Chhattisgarh collector snatched phone, slapped a boy gone out to buy medicines, polices also caned him, FIR lodged against the boy! @bhupeshbaghel @CG_Police @drramansingh @ndtv @ndtvindia @manishndtv @rohini_sgh @ajaiksaran @sunilcredible pic.twitter.com/T3c4Y6zW7s— Anurag Dwary (@Anurag_Dwary) May 22, 2021
Late on Saturday night, Sharma issued a public apology for the incident.
"Today, a video is viral on the social media in which I am shown slapping a man who was out during lockdown. I sincerely apologise. I never had any intention to disrespect or belittle the person in the video. The COVID-19 situation in Surajpur is bad. I along with my parents tested positive recently. We all employees of the state government are striving hard to tackle this problem," Sharma said.
He further mentioned that the man wasn't a minor, as has been claimed on social media.
"He is 23-year-old and was speeding and not stopping his two-wheeler despite being told to do so. Later misbehaved with officials," he added.
The man was charged by the police under the Epidemic Diseases Act for flouting coronavirus rules.