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Odishatv Bureau

Bolangir: Newly-elected BJD Patnagarh BJD MLA Saroj Meher has stoked a controversy by forcing a government official to do sit-ups as punishment for alleged poor quality of road work near Belpada in Bolangir district. A video purportedly showing the legislator asking the official to do sit-ups in front of the public has gone viral on social media.

During the legislator’s visit to the area recently, locals of Belpada had brought allegations about the poor road construction work and blamed the authorities for the same.

Following the complaints, the legislator asked the junior engineer of the Public Works Department (PWD), Jaykant Sabar to do hundred sit-ups in five minutes as punishment for the shoddy road work.

Obliging the directive of Meher, the official initially did some sit-ups, however when he requested the legislator to forgive him, Meher threatened the JE saying that locals would beat him up if he refuses to do the sit-ups.

Though the incident happened in full public glare, everyone kept watching the scene as mute spectators and did not intervene into the matter.

However, later many of the locals disliked the legislator’s activity in public places and termed it as similar to that of ‘praja court’ of Maoists.

Asked about the video of the incident going viral on social media, the junior engineer refused to say anything.

Later BJD Patnagarh MLA Saroj Meher tendered apology for forcing government official do sit-ups in public in Bolangir. He said, "The locals were angry over poor road construction work in their area & demanded action against the official; as the situation was out of my control I had to ask the official to do sit-up."

PWD executive engineer Loknath Mishra said, "While the MLA was inspecting road construction work near Gambhari village, he said the work has not been as per specifications. I cannot do much in this regard. As the MLA raised objections and behaved with the official in such manner, the latter can only take further action.

In his reaction, Bolangir Collector Arindam Dakua said, "The sub collector will be asked to probe the incident and submit a factual report. Thereafter action will be taken in connection with this."

Senior Congress MLA Narasingha Mishra said the incident is condemnable if found to be true. Similarly, senior BJP leader KV Singh Deo slammed the ruling party for allotting party ticket to Meher following the incident.

Later in the day, wife of JE Jaykant Sabar filed a complaint at Patnagarh Police Station alleging that her husband has been kidnapped by the MLA. Alleging torture of her husband, she also demanded immediate arrest of the MLA.

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