May 12, 2015
PILIBHIT: A gateman posted at the barrier to the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR) to check that all the produce taken out has the requisite clearance, has complained to the police that Union minister for women and child welfare Maneka Gandhi slapped and kicked him as she stopped by on her way to Puranpur. Fifty seven-year-old Rooplal Verma told police that on Sunday morning, Gandhi had stopped at the Garha forest barrier in the Mala forest range, where she saw residue of the wheat crop being burnt in adjacent fields. It was then that she lost her temper and held him responsible for it. In his complaint, a copy of which is in the possession of TOI, Rooplal said he was standing guard at the checkpost close to the Pilibhit-Lakhimpur highway when the convoy of the minister stopped by. He said deputy forest ranger Mahesh Chandra and other employees were also present when Gandhi arrived.
Rooplal added that the minister sought to know how there was a fire in the jungle. The deputy ranger, sniffing trouble, fled the spot, he said. “It was then that the minister questioned me.” He said he replied in all humility that a fire in the fields, from the burning of crop residue, sometimes spreads into the forest area, and that such fires are promptly extinguished. The minister was irritated with the response and slapped him, the gateman said. Questioned about why she needed to raise her hand, she hit him some more, Rooplal alleged. He pleaded that he had voted for her several times, but the minister continued to manhandle him, accusing him of arguing with her. Asked about the complaint, circle officer Kaushalendra Kumar said the matter would be investigated. MR Malik, Gandhi’s spokesperson, denied that she had raised her hand at the gateman. “The minister has always discouraged the burning of crop waste. Concerned that the fire was raging so close to the forest, she warned against negligence,” he said. Malik said that after being stringently warned, Rooplal twisted the facts and fabricated a story about being manhandled.
As posted in Timesofindia.indiatimes.com