A senior IPS officer in West Bengal has been caught on camera reaching out to touch the feet of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee moments after she popped what seemed to be cake into his mouth. She also fed cake to another official present. The officer took a bite, extended his arm to towards her feet and then touched his head with his hand.
Ms Banerjee was seated on a high brick wall on the seafront at Digha, 200 km from Kolkata. The incident is believed to have taken place during Ms Banerjee's visit to the seaside town last week.
The clip has gone viral. Its authenticity has not been independently confirmed by NDTV. BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya tweeted the video with a comment in Hindi: "What kind of democracy is this?"
The officer reaching to touch her feet is purportedly Rajiv Mishra, Inspector General of Police, Western Range. He is in uniform. The officer in civilian clothes, who is the first recipient of cake is Vineet Goel, Inspector General in charge of the Chief Minister's security. Trinamool MP Shishir Adhikari was third in line to take a bite.
Bengal's education minister Partha Chatterjee said he was not aware of the video. Senior MLA Dr Nirmal Majhi refused to comment. Both were present at a public rally addressed by Ms Banerjee today in Kolkata. In her speech, Ms Banerjee mentioned "fake videos" and the Centre "terrorising" police officers but they were only passing references.
In the past, a row had erupted when Anuradha Lohia, vice chancellor of Presidency University, had attempted a similar dash at the chief minister's feet at the 2015 convocation.
But there is no recent recall in Bengal of an Indian Police Service officer bowing in this fashion to anyone. Nor is there any photographic record in the recent past of Ms Banerjee personally popping sweets into the mouth of her officers.