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Amid storm of protest, BJP leaders seek Tripura DM’s ouster over wedding fracas

In a video that went viral on social media, the DM is seen stopping a wedding ceremony at Manikya Court, a marriage hall at North Gate of the Palace Compound, supposedly after 10pm, which is past the hour when the night curfew, which was announced in the Agartala Municipal Council (AMC) areas amid a surge in Covid-19 cases, takes effect.

Written by Debraj Deb | Agartala |
Updated: April 29, 2021 8:45:13 pm
Tripura, Tripura curfewTripura West District Magistrate (DM) Dr Shailesh Kumar Yadav orders closure of two marriage halls for violating night curfew order in Agartala. (Photo: Twitter/@Pronamotweets)

After protests from netizens and celebrities such as playback singer Sonu Nigam against West Tripura District Magistrate Shailesh Kumar Yadav for his purportedly arrogant behaviour with a bride and groom in the midst of a wedding ceremony two days ago, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Chandigarh chapter has written to Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, seeking strict action against the officer. It demanded an FIR against him and also sought his removal from service.

In his letter to the CM, Chandigarh BJP spokesperson Gaurav Goyal said, “No amount of Covid restrictions or any other provision of law gives any right to any male officer of any organisation to mount an attack on a groom waiting for his marriage rituals in the company of his bride. Priest is not the one who is responsible for organising the marriage ceremony, he merely presides over the auspicious rituals. The DM, Tripura (West), abusing his powers, not only slapped the priest but also manhandled the groom and relatives etc”.

The BJP spokesperson also accused the DM of misbehaving with women and the elderly, saying he had the responsibility of ensuring that the women in the wedding party were handled by women police officers.

“He knew that he was approaching a marriage palace where a marriage ceremony would be taking place, he having himself given permission for the conduct of that ceremony. …He came there without any female police officer and this was a grave offence and his entire conduct amounts to outraging the modesty of a woman,” the BJP leader wrote, adding that the IAS officer didn’t have the authority to commit such a grave offence.

The leader said a criminal case should be registered against the DM and should be removed from service forthwith, adding that ‘strictest action’ should be taken against him.

In a video that went viral on social media, the DM is seen stopping a wedding ceremony at Manikya Court, a marriage hall at North Gate of the Palace Compound, supposedly after 10 pm, which is past the hour when the night curfew, which was announced in the Agartala Municipal Council (AMC) areas amid a surge in Covid-19 cases, takes effect.

He was seen resorting to severe strictness as he shoved out the groom, arrested everyone, including the couple’s family members, and tore up a written permission for the wedding signed by himself.

He also forced guests to leave the wedding venue and got a few others arrested. He said everyone who gathered at the site were in direct violation of the prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC that were in force at the time and would be prosecuted. Over 30 people were arrested and released later.

A few video clips of the incident raised a storm on social media, with netizens asking whether a government official is authorised to tear up his own order and disrupt a wedding ceremony and its ‘muhurat’. Many called for an immediate probe against the officer saying he “ruined a marriage ceremony despite permission given under his own signature and hurt the bride and groom on their special and most happy moments”.

Opposition leader Manik Sarkar and his party, the CPI(M), termed the incident as ‘undesired’ and unbecoming of the district magistrate. The party released a statement saying necessary action should be taken against the DM for his behaviour. West Tripura MP and BJP leader Pratima Bhowmik said she would visit the bride’s relatives and speak to them over the incident. She urged them not to “lose heart”.

“The administration is doing what’s needed to break the chain of transmission of coronavirus. But what happened last night is most undesired. It should not have happened,” she said.

Tripura scion Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma, who also heads the TIPRA Motha which recently won the tribal council election, is the owner of Manikya Court, where the incident took place. In a Facebook post, he wrote, “Since I was not available last night, I saw the footage’s on video. A complete investigation must be done on the incident. Also, as per the VERBAL direction of Honourable DM sahib (seen on the camera footage) I will comply and close down my Manikya Court for the next one year. I believe in following the law and the enforcer. Time to rethink about many things including starting new business in TTAADC areas as well”.

Ruling BJP MLAs, including Sudip Roy Barman, Ashish Kumar Saha and Sushanta Choudhury, have also written to Chief Secretary Manoj Kumar seeking the DM’s removal. They have also launched a ‘dharna’ (sit-in) to press for their demand.

According to officials, a committee of two IAS officers has been formed to probe the incident and submit a report to the chief secretary for further action.

After receiving severe criticism on social media, the DM came out seeking apology, saying it wasn’t his intention to hurt anyone’s sentiments.

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