THE ADITYANATH government on Tuesday removed R P Singh as the state Haj Committee secretary, days after the Haj office building boundary wall was painted in saffron and later repainted in cream. Minister for Haj and Muslim Waqf Board, Mohsin Raza, had on January 11 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.
On Tuesday, Raza said: “The reply has to be submitted within 10 days… and if any wrongdoing is found, then further action will be taken against R P Singh… His removal is part of the same matter.” An office order issued by Principal Secretary (Minority Affairs) Monika S Garg said:
“R P 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.” Vineet Srivastav, an assistant director in the minority welfare directorate, will take charge as secretary of the Haj Committee, the order added.
The January 11 notice had 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, further sought to know why the 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, while also asking when did the secretary of Haj Committee inspected the office wall. On January 5, people in Lucknow woke up to a saffron Haj office wall. The painting job was carried out overnight by the estates department, officials said.
Raza had then said: “While the decision has been taken by officers, I do not see why it should be opposed. Saffron is a gift of God. It is a colour of happiness. It is the colour of sunrise, which gives light to the whole world… It is a government office and has been painted in a colour which the officers and staff decided…” With the government being accused of indulging in blatant saffronisation, the boundary wall was repainted in cream the next day.