Tripura officer shifted for ‘high-handed’ Covid curfew enforcement at marriages

The Tripura government on Wednesday transferred IAS officer Shailesh Kumar Yadav for his alleged “high-handedness” in dealing with people at two marriage halls in Agartala recently amidst the night curfew imposed to curb the alarming rise in Covid cases, officials said.

A General Administrations Department official said that Yadav, who was on Sunday removed from West Tripura District Magistrate, has been transferred to South Tripura in the same capacity. South Tripura District Magistrate Debapriya Bardhan has been shifted to Gomati district.

Yadav, who earlier apologised for disrupting the marriage ceremonies during the raids on April 26, in a letter to Chief Secretary Manoj Kumar on Sunday, requested to be relieved from his post, pending an inquiry into the incident that rocked the state and many parts of the country.

The Tripura High Court , which took up the case, on Wednesday, directed the state government to include former District Judge Subhash Sikdar in the two-member inquiry committee constituted by the state government on April 28 to probe the incident.

Former Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, at least five MLAs of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Tripura Women Commission Chairperson Barnali Goswami, and all the opposition parties vehemently criticised the DM for his “unsavoury” behaviour and actions.

One of the MLAs, Ashish Das, also held a demonstration protesting the DM’s actions and demanding his suspension.

Following a direction by Yadav, as many as 31 people, including 19 women, were detained by the police from the marriage halls for violating the night curfew and other Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) enforced to curb the Covid spread. However, all were subsequently released from the West Agartala police station.

“If anyone got hurt due to my action, I am apologising for that. I have done this for the larger interest of the society and the people. I have taken the strict action to give a message to the people to maintain the government SOP,” Yadav told a local television channel after the controversy.

An MBBS doctor, Yadav, an IPS turned IAS officer, also told the media that a section of policemen were allegedly hand-in-glove with the marriage parties and allowed holding the ceremonies blatantly violating the government orders.

A video of the raids in the marriage halls went viral on social media and led to many across the country condemning the incident.