BHOPAL— It seemed as if to up the ante to earn the title of “Cleanest City” of India for the fifth time, the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) employees, besides disposing off garbage laid their hands on homeless and disabled destitute dotting the footpaths of the city begging alms, lifted them bodily to pack up in a truck and dump them outside the municipal limits.
This was the inhuman scene in Indore, the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh, on Friday as passersby looked in bewilderment when the destitutes were being dropped like stray cattle at Kishpra locality, which is outside the municipal limits of the city. When some Good Samaritan seeing the plight of the aged who were being left alone in the biting cold to fend themselves in alien environment, clicked videos and made it viral on the social media.
Thereafter, hue and cry ensued which alerted the district administration and thereby it swung into action taking up damage control exercise. Heads started rolling with Deputy municipal Commissioner Pratap Solanki having been suspended while two more contractual employees were sacked after Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan tweeted, expressing his annoyance over the entire episode and ordered for action against the responsible officials.
Videos went viral
Three videos went viral over social media on Friday, two of which featuring an IMC anti-encroachment squad abandoning elderly destitute at Kishpra, which is outside the municipal limits.
The videos showed the IMC employees dropping homeless elderly destitute, many of them weak and old with just rags and torn bags as possession, on the highway and throwing their belongings from a truck on the same road. The third video showed local residents opposing the move of IMC employees even as one person was heard narrating how the aged homeless persons were abandoned on the highway and their belongings were being thrown on the road. One employee was seen trying to explain their position. The video shows elderly men and women, barely able to sit properly, being pulled out of the truck and dumped on the roadside by IMC employees – one of the workers was wielding a stick issuing directions to others.
The same video later showed the IMC employees lugging the elderly destitute back on the truck even as local residents threatening to share the clips of the incident on CM Helpline. After protest from Kishpra residents, they picked up the elderly men and women – believed to be brought from one of the IMC-run shelter home – and moved away amidst angry remarks from people witnessing the inhumane act. The video apparently shot by one of the locals protesting the IMC action, led to sharp reactions from different quarters.
‘Orders from Government’
Meanwhile, a shopkeeper of Kishpra, Rajesh Joshi, told reporters that the IMC vehicle had abandoned the elderly destitute and left but they stopped it. “When we asked IMC employees why they abandoned elderly homeless in Kishpra, pat came the reply that the orders for the same were from the government. The employees said that the destitute make Indore city dirty so they have been driven out of the city,” Joshi said, adding that they forced the employees to take the aged people back.
As the videos went viral, IMC initially tried to trivialize the matter saying that IMC team was picking up destitute from a place in municipal limits to transport them to “Rainbasera” (night shelter). Solanki, who was supervising the work of transporting destitute to “Rainbasera”, gave a clean chit to the IMC team, saying they did nothing wrong. “They were just picking up destitute from roadside to take them to night shelter,” he said.
IMC commissioner Pratibha Pal told reporters, “Deputy commissioner Pratap Solanki has been suspended and services of Rain Basera (shelter home) supervisor Brajesh Lashkari and a worker Vishwas Vajpayee have been terminated after the carelessness that came to fore on Friday.” IMC is carrying out a drive to move the destitute, elderly and orphaned people to the “Rainbaseras” on a regular basis. A preliminary probe shows carelessness on part of these employees in transporting them in the vehicle and dumping them outside the municipal limits of the city,” she said.
However, talking to news persons, Additional Municipal Commissioner Abhay Rajangaonkar said that he had seen the videos but did not find any inhumane act from the IMC employees. They mishandled the destitute while putting them in vehicle. Two employees have been sacked for it. “An inquiry has been ordered to find out why they were taken out of the city,” he said.
IMC, in an official release later, said “The elderly have been taken to shelter home and are being given proper care. Steps are being taken to prevent reoccurrence of the incident.”
Meanwhile, District Collector Manish Singh termed the act inhumane and unfortunate. He stated that the government has suspended Solanki and two contractual employees were sacked.
It may be mentioned here that Indore was adjudged India’s cleanest city for a fourth straight year while Surat and Navi Mumbai grabbed the second and third positions respectively, as the Centre announced the results of its latest annual cleanliness survey in August 2020.