In Indore - India's "cleanest city" for four consecutive years, as decided by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs - a team of municipal workers have been caught on video trying to dump elderly homeless people, presumably gathered from within the city, by the side of a highway on the city's outskirts.
They were forced to bring them back after opposition from villagers in the Kshipra area, who protested the government's apparent move to leave them on the highway amid a freezing winter.
Videos of this incident - possibly shot by locals - have been widely shared online and show the municipal team trying to unload homeless people off a truck parked by the side of the highway.
The disturbing visual shows a frail old woman, wrapped in filthy rags and barely able to sit upright, being supported by a man as the villagers argue with the municipal workers.
In one video a man can be heard explaining how the municipal team brought the homeless people in a truck and abandoned them on the highway, throwing their belongings by the side of the road.
In India's cleanest city team of Indore Municipal Corporation dumped aged destitutes on outskirts, later when villagers opposed lugged them back on truck, 2 officials suspended one transferred @ndtv@soniandtv@Suparna_Singh@manishndtv@vinodkapri@rohini_sgh@GargiRawatpic.twitter.com/mLAWc0Pdcd— Anurag Dwary (@Anurag_Dwary) January 29, 2021
A second video shows the municipal team bringing the homeless people back on the same yellow truck after opposition to their barbaric act.
Abhay Rajangaonkar, the Indore Municipal Corporation's Additional Commissioner, has claimed the municipal employees were actually taking the homeless people to a night shelter.
He denied allegations they had been dropped on the outskirts of the city.
The opposition Congress has pounced on this shocking incident, taking the opportunity for a swipe at the ruling BJP and the party's phasing out of veteran leaders like LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi.
"In the name of cleanliness the officials of the Indore Municipal Corporation left the elderly in the cold. Now what should the poor officials do... they are working according to the ideology of the BJP? As the BJP left many elderly leaders... like Advaniji, Joshiji, Yashwant Sinha," Congress spokesperson Narendra Saluja said.
Meanwhile, the BJP government in the state has swung into damage control mode
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has ordered action against the men in the video.
Two contractual workers in charge of a night shelter were sacked by the Municipal Corporation, and Deputy Commissioner Pratap Solanki has been suspended.
"Today I got information about inhuman treatment of old people by Municipal Corporation employees in Indore... two employees, including the Deputy Commissioner, (who are) responsible have been suspended. The District Collector has been instructed to take proper care of the elderly," the Chief Minister said.
"Inhuman treatment towards the elderly will not be tolerated at any cost. Every aged person should get respect and love. This is our culture and also human religion," he added
Indore is looking to win the "cleanest city" award for a fifth consecutive year.