Sub-divisional magistrate of Meerganj tehsil in Bareilly has been removed from his post after a video surfaced in which he is purportedly seen to have asked a man to squat in his office as a punishment.
The man reached the SDM's office to lodge his complaint about alleged encroachment of a cremation ground but the official allegedly told him murga bano (squatting and holding both ears) as a punishment.
A video of the incident went viral on Friday.
Divisional Commissioner of Bareilly Saumya Agarwal on Saturday said that a probe has been ordered into the incident.
District Magistrate of Bareilly Shivakant Dwivedi said that prima facie laxity on the part of the SDM Udit Pawar has emerged and he has been attached to the district headquarters.
Pawar has been replaced by Desh Deepak Singh as Bareilly SDM.
Pawar has denied all allegations saying the complainant squatted on his own.
"I did not ask any complainant to squat. The youth who came to my office squatted on his own as he entered my room. His friends took photographs and made videos, and then made those videos viral."
"I assured them that the matter will be probed by the tehsildar, and action will be taken if any encroachment of cremation ground is found," Pawar added.
The complainant, Pappu Lodhi, has alleged that when he and some villagers asked the SDM to act on the alleged encroachment in Mandanpur village, Pawar got angry and insulted them and then asked him to squat as punishment.
Villagers of Mandanpur village said that the cremation ground has been encroached by some Muslims.
"The only other alternative to the cremation ground is to perform last rites on the banks of Ramganga river," they said.
"But since the river is currently in spate, the last rites cannot be performed there too," they added.
On Friday, villagers, including Ramkumar, Puranlal, Dharampal, Gedan Lal and Pappu Lodhi, gave a memorandum to SDM Pawar on the matter, to which they were told that action will be taken on the basis of a report by tehsildar.
Lodhi said that when they complained about the delay in taking any action on the matter, the SDM got angry, asked the villagers to leave the room and told one of them to squat.
Reacting to the incident, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav hit out at the autocratic bureaucracy under the monopoly rule in Uttar Pradesh.
In a social media post on X (in Hindi) Yadav said, 'Fact: This is the real face of the autocratic bureaucracy under the monopoly rule in Uttar Pradesh and a true picture of the official-government atrocities being committed on the weak and vulnerable people of Uttar Pradesh.'
'Theory: Dictatorship comes from the top to down and becomes a part of the behaviour of officials from the national capital to the state capital,' he said.
'Expectation: The government should take suo motu cognizance and suspend the officer and conduct an inquiry or the court should take suo motu cognisance of it,' Yadav said.
The SP chief also made a remark on the colour of the clothes the complainant was wearing.
'WARNING: Before making the complainant squat (fariyadi ko murga banane se pehle), the officer should have paid attention to the 'colour' of his clothes. Don't know if the BJP government makes the official stand in the 'very specific punitive body posture' (ati vishisht dandatmak sharirik mudra) for insulting a particular 'colour',' he said in the X post.