From stooping to strict, the makeover came in flat 24 hours for the East Singhbhum district transport office (DTO) in Jamshedpur.
A day after former minister Champai Soren’s contractor son Babulal Soren was allowed “inadvertent” access to government computers, the DTO turned into a small fortress with two hurriedly deployed security guards keeping outsiders officially out.
Disciplinary measures are also being mulled against head clerk Baleshwar Singh, who was in charge of the DTO at that time, and computer operator Pankaj Kumar Sinha, who offered Babulal tea and didn’t stop him from playing on the computers.
The action follows a report in The Telegraph on Thursday, exposing negligence on the part of DTO officials and a coterie culture that is very politically Jharkhand.
Soon after the matter was brought to her notice, deputy commissioner Himani Pande asked transport officer George Kumar to prevent “unauthorised entry” into the building that houses important vehicle data of the entire district.
For starters, the two guards will keep vigil from 10am to 5pm. They will seek details of anyone wishing to meet the district transport officer. Only those with genuine gripe will be granted permission to go to his chamber. Other rooms in the office building will remain no-go zones.
Speaking to The Telegraph, George Kumar confirmed that all work like issuing of registrations, driving licences, et al would be done through window counters. “Nobody will be allowed to enter the office without my permission,” he said.
Kumar — who holds dual charge of Seraikela-Kharsawan and was away in the neighbouring district when Babulal, his two friends and three gun-toting guards strutted into the DTO — admitted to dereliction of duty on the part of his office staff.
“What happened was wrong. The former minister’s should not have been allowed into the office in my absence and without my permission,” he said in a perfect volte-face from his Wednesday’s stand when he had nearly defended Babulal’s entry and the unnecessary courtesy of his staff towards the former transport minister’s son.
Witnesses, who had watched Babulal being offered a seat and tea while they stood under the sun, had said he stayed at the DTO for some 15 minutes and spent most of his time playfully punching computer keys or scrolling the screen.
Kumar promised to end discrimination.
“Four new counters are being opened, taking the total number to seven. Each will conduct specific business. For instance, learner’s licence will be issued from counter No. 1, while tax, licence registration fee, transfer fee and backlog licence fee can be deposited at the other six counters. This is being done to ease hassles for the public,” he said.
Meanwhile, additional district magistrate (law and order) Ajit Shanker said action would be taken against DTO employees who allowed Babulal to “play” on the computers. “The DC has directed an inquiry after which action will be taken,” he added.