A gate attendant, Rooplal Verma, 57, posted at the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve has complained to police that Union minister for women and child welfare Maneka Gandhi slapped and kicked him as she stopped by on her way to Puranpur.
Verma said Gandhi had stopped at the Garha forest barrier in the Mala forest range, where she saw residue of a wheat crop being burnt in adjacent fields. She held him responsible for it and lost her temper. When questioned Verma told the Minister that a fire in the fields from burning crop residue, sometimes does spread into the forest area, and such fires are promptly put out.
Minister Maneka allegedly responded with a slap even though the man pleaded that he had voted for her several times, but the minister continued to manhandle him.
M R Malik, Maneka Gandhi’s spokesperson denied that she had raised her hand. She was concerned that the fire was raging so close to the forest as she always discouraged the burning of crop waste. She said Verma bent the facts and made up the story about being manhandled.
The circle officer said the matter will be investigated and the district magistrate said the issue did not concern him at all. Verma meanwhile said he would approach the UP minister of state for forests.