Assam government employees held a protest after a legislator from the BJP-led ruling alliance allegedly slapped a staff member who’d asked him to fill out a visitor’s slip at the Transport Secretary’s office. The fact that the staffer, Junior Assistant Bibhuti Bhattacharya, is physically challenged — due to a hearing problem in one ear — has further angered the employee unions.
The MLA, Jayanta Basumatary of the United People’s Party Liberal or UPPL, has denied the allegations. He said he’d “just pushed his hand down”.
But the Sadou Assam Karmachari Parishad, the state’s largest staff union, has written to Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. No police complaint has yet been registered.
Bibhuti Bhattacharya, who made the allegations, said he could not recognise the MLA when he came to see Transport Secretary Adil Khan at his office on Wednesday. “I requested him to fill up the visitors’ slip. He identified himself and said an MLA is not required to do this formality. I said this is the government protocol. But he got angry and slapped me,” he told reporters.
But the MLA had a slightly different version. “I was told that the officer was busy in a meeting, so I’d have to wait. One of his staff members told me to write my details in a visitor’s slip. I said that’s not required, ‘you please inform the officer that that MLA from Sidli has come’. When they insisted, my assistant and I objected since it’s not the protocol,” he said.
“This led to an altercation. The employee was pointing fingers at my assistant. I just pushed his hands down. I never slapped him,” he further said, adding, “In fact, he said sorry to me and we took a selfie together. But later this false allegation was made against me. I think there is a conspiracy.”
But the union said he’s lying. “If an employee is not safe at the Secretariat, he cannot be safe anywhere. He was assaulted for performing his duties sincerely. We appeal to the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary (Jishnu Baruah) to give us justice. We will not relent,” the union said in a statement.