Odisha BJD MLA apologises for forcing PWD engineer to do sit-ups, claims he did it to save officer from angry people

Bhubaneswar: Newly elected BJD MLA Saroj Kumar Meher, who drew flak after a video purportedly showing him forcing a junior PWD engineer to do sit-ups in public went viral, Thursday apologised for his action, while claiming that he did it to assuage public anger.

In the video, the Patnagarh MLA is seen reprimanding the engineer over alleged shoddy road construction work in his constituency in Bolangir district and asking him to do 100 sit-ups in the middle of the road.

 Odisha BJD MLA apologises for forcing PWD engineer to do sit-ups, claims he did it to save officer from angry people

File image of Saroj Kumar Meher. Image courtesy: Twitter/@SarojMeeher

Meher claimed that he took the action as angry public could have harmed the engineer if he did not do anything. "I am sorry for the incident. But, I was compelled to ask the engineer to do sit-ups in the wake of public resentment... People were angry over the poor quality of road construction and they could have harmed the engineer if I did not ask him to do sit-ups," Meher told reporters in Bolangir.

"The situation was not under my control as the angry people demanded punishment for the erring engineer," he said.

Earlier in the day, District Collector Arindam Dakua said a decision will be taken in the matter after the Patnagarh sub-collector files a report. "I have sought a factual report from Patnagarh sub-collector on the incident. Any action will be taken based on the report from the sub-collector," Dakua said.

Sources said Meher had on Wednesday visited the Belpada block in the district, where local people complained about the poor construction of the Mandal-Belpada bypass. In the video clip, the engineer is seen apologising for his alleged laxity in performing his duties, but Meher does not relent.

The MLA allegedly threatened the engineer with "mob thrashing", following which the latter did sit-ups on the road.

However, Executive Engineer LN Mishra said the bypass construction work is still underway. "We will look into the complaint and make rectifications if there is a concern over the quality of construction," he added.

Meanwhile, both the BJP and the Congress Thursday criticised Meher over his action. "If it is true, then it can be said that the MLA has taken the law into his hands. I condemn his action," said Congress MLA from Bolangir, Narasingha Mishra.

Senior BJP leader KV Singhdeo said the incident showed the kind of people that the BJD had chosen as its MLAs.

Updated Date: Jun 06, 2019 23:26:24 IST