Uttar Pradesh govt sacks Haj Committee secy after controversy over saffron paint on Haj House

Lucknow: The Yogi Adityanath government on Tuesday removed RP Singh from the post of Uttar Pradesh Haj Committee secretary following the controversy over the saffron paint on Haj office boundary wall. The government had earlier issued a notice to Singh, seeking an explanation on who ordered its office boundary wall to be painted saffron and why it was subsequently repainted.

 Uttar Pradesh govt sacks Haj Committee secy after controversy over saffron paint on Haj House

File image on Lucknow Haj House. News 18

"RP Singh, who is joint director in the minority welfare directorate, has been removed from his additional post of secretary, UP Haj Committee, with immediate effect," an office order issued by Principal Secretary (Minority Affairs) Monika S Garg said.

Vineet Srivastav, an assistant director in the minority welfare directorate, will take charge as secretary, UP Haj Committee, the order added. The sudden development comes after UP's minister of state for Muslim Waqf and Haj, Mohsin Raza directed that a explanation be sought from the Haj Committee secretary on the circumstances pertaining to the painting and repainting of the wall.

Raza said the media has raised a number of queries about the incident. A notice was issued to the UP Haj Committee's secretary, officials said. The notice sought clarifications on the rules under which the maintenance and painting work of Haj Committee office was done. It also sought to know on whose orders the boundary wall was painted for the first time.

"When a saffron coat was already given, then under which circumstances there was a need to change the colour, and on whose orders was the colour changed?" the notice said.

"Who is responsible for the second coat of paint, and who will bear the cost for the second coat of paint," it asked. The notice also sought details of the tender floated for the painting and the companies involved.

The minister, in the notice, also sought to know why the UP Haj Committee secretary issued a press release, and on whose orders, regarding the paint job.

"Whether any written orders were issued to the contractor? According to the press release, action was to be initiated against the contractor. Hence, what action has been initiated against the contractor," Raza asked in the notice. The minister also sought to know on which date the secretary of Haj Committee inspect the office wall.

People in the state capital were caught by surprise on 5 January morning when they saw the boundary wall of the UP Haj office painted saffron.

The building, opposite the state legislature building, is right in the heart of the city. The fresh coat came days after the secretariat building facade was given the same orange hue. The painting job was carried out overnight by the Uttar Pradesh estates department, officials said. The saffron colour, mostly associated with Hinduism and especially with the Sangh Parivar of which the BJP is a part, was also painted on the front portion of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Bhawan Annexe where the offices of the chief minister and top bureaucrats are located.

After assuming office in March last year, Chief Minister Adityanath exhibited his fondness for the colour as the state government gave a saffron tinge to covers of official booklets and background of official posters issued by the public relations department and ministries.

In October last year, 50 saffron-coloured buses of the UP State Road Transport Corporation, named 'Sankalp Seva', were launched to provide service in rural areas.

The 45-year-old monk-turned-politician Adityanath is always seen wearing saffron robes. Interestingly, in Adityanath's home turf Gorakhpur, the historic "Ghantaghar" (clock tower) has the same tint.

Updated Date: Jan 16, 2018 21:24:48 IST