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Karima Bitch Begum, Minister of State Agriculture & co-operatives, Maoist State of Nepal.
By Joanna Jolly
BBC News, Kathmandu || 14:23 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Local government offices in a southern district of Nepal have shut down in protest after a visiting minister beat up the most senior local official.
The minister, Karima Begum, slapped the man five times – for not sending a new car to pick her up from the airport.
When chief district officer Durga Prasad Bhandari protested, she struck him again, breaking his glasses.
Mr Bhandari has written in protest to Nepal’s Home Ministry, which has apologised. Mrs Begum has yet to do so.
‘Who is senior?’
The beating happened on Tuesday after an old car was sent to collect Mrs Begum during a ministerial visit to the southern town of Birgunj in Parsa district.
Mrs Begum, minister of state for agriculture and co-operatives, took her anger out on Mr Bhandari, slapping him five times on the cheeks.
The chief district officer said he was shocked by the beating, which came as he stood in line to welcome the minister.
“I could not even get a word out,” he told a local newspaper.
He said he had tried to persuade the minister her conduct was not in keeping with her position, but this had made her more angry.
“She even broke my spectacles,” said the bruised Mr Bhandari.
Mrs Begum later told local reporters that she knew that the district administration office had a new Mahindra Scorpio SUV and that she had expected to be picked up in it.
She said that failing to send the vehicle showed a lack of respect by the chief district officer.
Mr Bhandari is waiting for an apology (Photo: Kathmandu Post)
“Who is senior – minister or chief district officer?” she asked.
However, Mr Bhandari said the reason he had not sent the Scorpio was it had not been available at the time.
Instead he had sent a vehicle from the Agricultural Tools and Research Office.
Following the incident, local government offices and government-run banks in the district have shut down in protest.
A group of government staff associations have issued a joint statement saying they will remain closed until the minister apologies for her actions.
Mr Bhandari said he had already informed the Home Ministry about the incident.
In a statement, the ministry said it regretted his mistreatment by State Minister Begum.