The senior official and his wife have been moved to opposite ends of the country after a report said they shut down a sports stadium so they could walk their dog.
The Indian government has ordered the transfer of a couple of bureaucrats to opposite ends of the country following outrage over a media report alleging they forced a sports stadium in the capital to close early in order to walk their dog.
India’s Home Ministry on Thursday transferred senior government official Sanjeev Khirwar from Delhi city to Ladakh in Indian-administered Kashmir, while his wife Rinku Dugga, secretary to the Delhi government, was sent to Arunachal Pradesh state in the far northeast. , according to an official order.
Located at the eastern and western ends of the Himalayan mountain range, the bureaucrat couple’s new postings are about 3,200 km (2,000 miles) apart, or a 65-hour drive according to Google Maps.
Such transfers of bureaucrats to India often follow allegations of misconduct against them and are considered “punitive postings”.
The ministry’s order came after a social media furor sparked by a report by The Indian Express newspaper claiming that athletes and coaches at Thyagraj Stadium in the Indian capital – built for the 2010 Commonwealth Games – were to leave in the early evening so Khirwar can walk his dog.
The Indian Express report contained a photograph of Khirwar and Dugga walking their dog on the stadium track.
The Indian Express visited the #ThyagrajStadium three nights in the last seven days and saw the stadium guards marching to the track around 6:30 p.m., whistling and making sure the arena was clear by 7:00 p.m.
Read: https://t.co/emfbuM67FG pic.twitter.com/bpUfo7PL3E
— Express Sports (@IExpressSports) May 26, 2022
The newspaper quoted Khirwar as saying he “sometimes” walked his pet around the stadium, but denied that it disrupted the athletes’ training routine.
“I would never ask an athlete to leave their stadium,” he said. “Even if I visit, I go after the stadium is supposed to close.”
Delhi’s deputy chief minister said on Thursday authorities had ordered all sports facilities in the city to remain open to athletes until 10 p.m.
The government has spent billions of dollars on new facilities for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, which remain India’s biggest sporting event. The games also made headlines for corruption allegations against officials from the Ministry of Sports.
Most of the games’ venues are still in operation – some are occasionally used for other events such as political rallies or concerts – and the government spends large sums on their upkeep.
The Indian Express report drew strong reactions from political leaders and social media users.
“What is this bizarre abuse of power where athletes are forced to end their training early because a government officer has to walk his dog. Pathetic!” said Gaurav Pandhi, a member of the main opposition Congress party, on Twitter.
Netizens were quick to point out that the couple’s new missions are both renowned for their natural beauty and offer plenty of dog-walking opportunities. Many also wondered where the dog was going.
“On the other hand – wherever the dog goes – Ladakh or Arunachal – he will have plenty of room to roam and walk… without having to close a stadium,” one tweet said.