The matter came to light after the photo went viral on the internet. On Wednesday evening, SDO (Nawabganj) Ravindra Prakash Gautam was suspended and bin-Laden’s photo removed from the office’s wall. The 47-year-old officer had been working with the power department for the past 21 years.
Amit Kishore, MD of the state government-owned discom DVVNL, said, “The act of the SDO falls in the category of ‘serious misconduct’ and calls for harsh disciplinary action. Following a primary investigation, the officer was suspended for violation of the Uttar Pradesh Government Servants’ Conduct Manual, 1956. A detailed probe report will be sent to the state government for further action. For now, the photo has been removed.”
According to officials privy to the incident, Gautam placed the photo after reading a book that mentioned “Laden had a degree in civil engineering and was associated with major construction projects in Saudi Arabia in the initial phase of his life.”
When TOI reached out to Gautam, he said, “I placed the photo around a month ago. Osama bin-Laden was a civil engineer and executed a mega plan without scope for failure. The picture was simply there for personal motivation — to set high targets and work meticulously to achieve them. My intention is not destructive. I am not a supporter of terrorism and have never indulged in anything unlawful. In fact, I take inspiration from missile man APJ Abdul Kalam, too, and have always had his picture and quote on display at my office.” Gautam hails from Lucknow, is a double diploma holder in mechanical and electrical engineering and has a B Com as well as an LLB degree. He is also father to a six-year-old girl. Gautam’s colleagues said he is highly learned, an avid reader and dedicated to his work but had been suffering from “mental complications” in the last three weeks.
“He recently put up wires around the office and passed current through them, saying this was needed to prevent a ‘sudden attack’. We had no idea what he meant,” said a colleague.
SK Shakya, vice president of DVVNL employees’ association and a colleague of the SDO, said, “The SDO is a very learned and honest man. He would never ignore anyone who approached his office with a grievance. He would never hesitate to reach the ground to resolve an issue. But he has been acting strangely of late. We removed the photo of Laden from his office but he got angry and placed it back. He is clearly suffering from mental complications and needs adequate treatment. We do not know the exact reason behind the sudden shift in his behaviour but higher authorities must be sympathetic to his condition.”