MUSSORIE: On Sunday, the curfew in the hill town kicked in at 1pm. Seven hours later, sub-inspector Neeraj Kathait ran into Roorkee MLA Pradeep Batra and his family, taking a stroll. Kathait issued him a challan for not wearing masks properly and for defying curfew, and Batra, in anger, threw the challan amount at him — all captured in a video that was shared widely. On Thursday, Kathait was transferred, reports Anmol Jain.
“The sub-inspector’s transfer was ordered by the SSP’s office,” Mussoorie circle officer Narendra Pant told TOI. Kathait is now going to take over his duties in the small town of Kalsi, about 40km from Dehradun.
In the video, Kathait could be heard asking the MLA, “How are you roaming around without masks and no social distancing? Roaming around is not allowed.” Batra asked him to “be polite” and said he and his family had their masks on the entire time. His son is then heard saying they were returning to the hotel. Kathait said Batra would have to pay a challan of Rs 500, after which Batra flings the money at him and walks away.
On Sunday, CO Pant had said, “The officer was simply following instructions. However, we have launched an inquiry.” On Thursday, he said, “The officer had completed three years in Mussoorie and was due for a transfer.”
As news of his transfer spread, locals rallied behind him — online and offline. The Mussoorie Traders’ Association submitted a memorandum to the CM supporting Kathait and met the tehsildar with a request to stop his transfer. “The MLA violated the law. The cop took action and should be applauded, not punished,” said Rajat Aggarwal, president of the organisation.
WhatsApp groups were quickly formed. “This would demoralise the police force. They would refrain from taking strict action against violators in future,” a local posted in a group. Another wrote, “Police must first enquire whether the person is an MLA before issuing a challan to any violator.”
Opposition Congress said it would launch an agitation if Kathait was not reinstated. “We urge the government to revoke the sub-inspector’s transfer. It was the MLA who was violating the rules,” added Gaurav Agarwalla, president of the party’s Mussoorie unit.