Kesar Singh, the BJP legislator from Nawabganj in Bareilly district 250 km from the Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow, says he had gone to the Baroda UP Rural Bank branch on Wednesday after complaints that farmers who had defaulted on loans weren't allowed to withdraw money despite Yogi Adityanath Government's farm loan waiver.
"I introduced myself because it was possible that he did not know me. Still he did not ask me to sit," said Mr Singh. According to the legislator, he asked manager HS Hanki why there so many complaints against the bank. This infuriated the official and there was "some hot talk" (a loud argument). No one was beaten up... These allegations, counter-allegations are political... concocted," said the lawmaker who joined the BJP last year after the Bahujan Samaj Party expelled him.
It is a version that bank officials strongly contest. Ashok Kumar Pandey, a cashier at the bank, doesn't know what happened inside the manager's room. But a few minutes later, the lawmaker and six-seven people accompanying him pulled the manager out of the office and took him away.
Mr Hanki has told the police that the legislator assaulted him in his room and then, took him away. It has been alleged in the police complaint that he was again beaten up and threatened before letting him off, Bareilly Deputy Inspector General of Police Ashutosh Kumar said.
"Because the matter relates to a lawmaker on the one hand, and has a corruption angle on the other, we have deputed a senior officer to probe the case," he said, promising the case will be dealt with according to the law.
But the police are also being cautious, lest they too are accused of batting for the previous Samajwadi Party regime, and handed their transfer orders. Over 200 bureaucrats including police officers have been shuffled around including the district chief of Saharanpur district Love Kumar who had resisted pressure from the BJP's Lok Sabha member.
Yamuna Prasad, the chief of Bareilly Rural district said they had not found any evidence of the assault other than the version of the bank employees. "There was a CCTV camera but it wasn't working," he said. The officer was quick to dismiss the allegation that the branch manager had been abducted by the lawmaker and thrashed. Some people have spoken about misbehaviour, he said.