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Two separate incidents within a span of a month involving Uttarakhand BJP cabinet ministers in the public beating of two youth has raised the political temperature of the hill state. While, in the first case, a senior cabinet minister himself beat up a person on the busy road in Rishikesh last month, in a recent incident another cabinet minister was seen watching while his supporters beat up a youth of probably unsound mind in Dehradun. The videos of both incidents are viral.
Congress, the main opposition party in the state has questioned the public behaviour of the senior cabinet ministers and asked the Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami to act against these ministers by at least sacking them from his cabinet. “ This is the height of impropriety when cabinet ministers who have taken the oath to uphold the rule of law are taking law in their own hands,” said Karan Mahra, President of the Uttarakhand Congress.
In the recent incident on June 2, 2023, the supporters of Uttarakhand Agriculture Minister Ganesh Joshi mercilessly thrashed a youth who was probably of unsound mind and tried to grab the ‘Kurta’ of the minister who was on a visit to the Garhi Dakra area of Dehradun. The youth in question had been behaving violently for the past few days in the area. He was given a sound thrashing by the supporters of the ministers as he kept watching. However, his supporters maintain that the minister asked his supporters to refrain from beating him up. The youth was later handed over to the police. Ganesh Joshi is a senior BJP leader who was allegedly involved and charged in the injury and subsequent death of a police horse ‘Shaktiman’ during a clash with police during a party demonstration in 2016. He was later acquitted by a local court for want of sufficient evidence in 2021.
In the earlier incident held on May 2, 2023, a video went viral in which Uttarakhand Urban Development, Finance, and Parliamentary Affairs minister and former Speaker of the Uttarakhand Vidhan Sabha Prem Chand Aggarwal and his security personal and staff beating up a youth on a busy Rishikesh road. A statement issued by the minister said that a man started misbehaving with him while his car was stuck in a traffic jam and tore his kurta. “ when the minister’s security guard intervened, his uniform was also torn and he also tried to snatch his pistol. The man also picked up a stone with the intention to injure the minister, somehow the minister and his security personnel saved themselves,” the statement said.
Surinder Singh Negi, the victim said that when he tried to pass the vehicle of the minister on his scooter from the left side, the minister got angry and started abusing him. He stopped and reacted leaving the minister furious who got out of his car and slapped him twice, When he reacted his security guard and staff pounced upon him thrashing him for five minutes. Another man who tried to save him was also beaten up.
The incident led to public anger and disgust and fearing adverse public reaction, the Uttarakhand government ordered registering of FIRs against the minister and his staff for rioting, voluntarily causing hurt, and intentional insult with the intent to provoke a breach of peace. A case was also registered against Surinder Singh Negi on the complaint of the minister.