Jammu: An IAS officer has landed into a controversy after she allegedly slapped a protesting contractor, misbehaved with media persons and snatched the camera of a video journalist who was covering the protest here.
The Commissioner of Jammu Municipal Corporation and IAS officer Mandeep Kour allegedly slapped Sanjay Kumar who was protesting the "unlawful cancellation" of his parking contract by her yesterday.
Defending her actions, the Municipal commissioner said that she did that because she was being videographed without her permission.
"And fyi (for your information) the contractor was not slapped for protesting. He (contractor) was slapped for making my video despite telling him to stop (during the duty). No one gives any media person a right to invade my right to privacy without my permission, even if I am on a official duty (sic)," Mandeep Kour replied to a Whatsapp message.
"That's my fundamental right and I will fight for it. And I think if someone makes a video of your daughter or sister on the road without her permission she will and she should also slap that person and snatch his camera. That's the only right way," the IAS officer added.
"Very nice, on one side a news item providing an enabling environment to a girl child. On the other hand, criticizing a lady officer for snatching camera from a person who is discreetly making my video without even informing me (sic)" JMC commissioner said in the message.
The contractor Sanjay Kumar alleged that his contract was cancelled by JMC on filmsy grounds.
"We were given one year contract by the JMC but the JMC officials cancelled the contract on flimsy grounds, after which we approached the court of law and the court gave its decision in our favor," Kumar said.
Accusing the IAS officer of not following court orders and of "dishonouring" the court, Kumar said the JMC commissioner refused to abide by the court orders.
"We were protesting at the JMC when the commissioner arrived and started using unparliamentary language against us, I started recording this on my phone following which she snatched my phone and slapped me in full public view," Kumar said.
A video journalist Kiran Verma, working with a news channel, who was present at the venue covering the event was also allegedly manhandled by the Personal Security Officer (PSO) of the Municipal Commissioner and his camera was also snatched by the PSO.
"When the Municipal Commissioner saw that I was present there and had recorded the verbal abuse and the slap, she ordered her PSOs to snatch my camera. The PSOs pushed me and snatched my camera and have not returned it as of now," Verma said, adding that he feared that the IAS officer might have deleted the footage from the camera.
The president of the Press Club Jammu (PCJ) Ashwani Kumar strongly condemned the incident, terming it an attack on the "right to freedom of speech".
"This is a direct attack on the freedom of press, which raises question mark on the working of state administration. The video journalist was performing his professional duty and has recorded the entire incident in which the Municipal Commissioner has slapped a protesting contractor in full public view," the PCJ president said.
Kumar demanded a high level and time-bound inquiry into the incident and also keeping the officer off-duty till the inquiry comes out with its finding.
The IAS officer has not returned the journalist's video camera and the mobile phone of the contractor, who have made written complaints with the police.