After his social media post questioning the “trend” of entering Muslim localities and raising anti-Pakistan slogans to foment communal trouble went viral, Bareilly District Magistrate RV Singh Tuesday was summoned to Lucknow after apologising for the post and deleting it.
Singh was also under fire from state ministers even as he took to Facebook again to explain his stand. Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Maurya referred to Singh’s posts as an officer speaking the “language” of politicians.
In a post on Sunday, Singh had said about the violence in Kasganj, “Ajab riwaz ban gaya hai. Muslim mohallo main julus le jao aur Pakistan murdabad ke nare lagao. Kyun bhai woh Pakistani hain kya? (There is a strange new trend. Take out rallies in Muslim areas and raise slogans against Pakistan. Why, brother, are they Pakistanis?” Singh had also said in the post that a similar incident had occurred in Khailam in Bareilly after which there was stone pelting and cases were registered.
Singh’s post appeared two days after violence erupted in Kasganj in Etah on January 26 following the death of 22-year-old Abhishek Gupta, who was part of an unauthorised ‘Tiranga yatra’ on motorcycles in Kasganj. Clashes erupted when the yatra rode through a Muslim-dominated locality, where a flag hoisting ceremony was underway, and members of the yatra demanded they be allowed through. After coming under fire Tuesday, Singh said the entire episode was “ sad” and “unfortunate” and that he only intended to start an “academic discussion.”
Despite maintaining that strong note had been taken of his conduct, the UP government is yet to act against Singh and is contemplating further action. Sources said the government was also looking at similar incidents in other states, where action was initiated against officers voicing their views openly on social media.
Sources in Bareilly said this was not the first time Singh had expressed strong views on social media and said that he even wrote blogs and in local newspapers on varying issues. Singh was a Short Service Commission Army officer, before joining the State civil services and promoted to the IAS. He has earlier served as District Magistrate of Shravasti District in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. He is due to retire in April this year.
“The government will take strict action. Nischit taur pe DM ki bhasha neta ki taraha hai. (The DM’s language is like that of a politician’s). We will take action,” said Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya. Government spokesperson and senior minister Srikant Sharma said, “We are taking this post very seriously.” He added that the government was focussing on the maintenance of peace and to ensure that such incidents are not repeated. He also advised officers in the state: “Officers should keep away from sensational remarks.”
While Singh removed several other posts from his Facebook account Tuesday morning, Singh, posted a clarification, where he maintained that his post on the “trend” was regarding a particular incident in Bareilly during Kanwar yatra, which had created a law and order situation. “I had hoped there will be academic discussion but unfortunately it had taken a different turn. Extremely sad” he posted. Asking for the controversy to end, the post referred to Muslims as “Muslim brothers” with same DNA.
The law and order situations that emerge in the state due to activities that take place without permission creates a lot of issues, also hinders development activities in the state: RV Singh, DM Bareilly on his Facebook post over #KasganjViolence (29.1.18) pic.twitter.com/7e0zR6Wozj
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) January 30, 2018
He added that improving the “communal environment” was the responsibility of the administration. The post read, “Humare muslim bhai hain.. humare hi rakta.. DNA ek hi hai humara.. (Muslims are our brothers…of our blood…our DNA is the same).” Singh also said in Tuesday’s Facebook post that he would write about it all another day. “Pakistan humara shatru hai ismein koi sandeh nahi.. Humare muslim humare hain.. ismein bhi koi sandeh nahi. (Pakistan is our enemy, there is not doubt. Our Muslims belong here, there is no doubt about this).” Singh also apologised if he hurt anybody’s sentiments.
Retired officers supported Singh and said if politicians could share their views on a public platform despite being in office, why couldn’t officers. “The officer was referring to a particular incident and there was nothing anti-government or anti-social in it. While there are no specific service rules, which bind an officer from posting on social media, which was not even present when rules were formed, my only concern is that if politicians can share their views on public platform despite being in office as ministers then why an officer cannot,” said retired IAS officer of UP cadre SP Singh.