The collector of Surajpur district in Chhattisgarh on Saturday apologised after a video of him, slapping a man and throwing his phone on the ground for violation of COVID-19 guidelines during the lockdown, went viral on social media.
After the video went viral on social media, the collector faced sharp criticism for physically assaulting a citizen. In the video, the collector, after slapping the man and throwing his phone on the ground, can be seen ordering the police officers to hit the man again. A coronavirus-induced lockdown is in place in the district.
In the video, the man can be seen showing a piece of paper and something on his mobile phone to the collector who takes the device and throws it to the ground.
The senior official is then seen slapping the man and encouraging two policemen who rush to the spot and start hitting the man with sticks.
Later, in a video statement, Surajpur District Collector Ranbir Sharma said the reason for his outburst was that the man in the viral video lied to the officials and misbehaved with them.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Collector Ranbir Sharma said, "Today a video is viral on social media in which I am shown slapping a man who was out during lockdown. I sincerely apologize for today's behavior. I never had any intention to disrespect or belittle the person in the video."
"In this pandemic situation, district Surajpur along with the entire Chhattisgarh state has been facing an irreparable loss of lives. We all employees of the state government are striving hard to tackle this problem," he further said in his statement.
Sharma said he had recovered from COVID-19 while his mother continued to battle the infection, and asked people to follow COVID-19 norms in place strictly so that the outbreak can be contained.
Sharma said the man, contrary to some reports, was not minor but a 23-year-old "He was riding a bike and was over speeding. The man also misbehaved with officials", the collector said.
A police official told PTI that the man has been charged under the Epidemic Diseases Act for violating COVID-19 norms.