Madhya Pradesh: Dalit couple takes poison during eviction in Guna

BHOPAL: Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan ordered removal of Guna collector S Vishwanathan and SP Tarun Nayak late Wednesday night after a Dalit couple took poison during an eviction drive on government land on the outskirts of town on Tuesday.

“My government will take strong action against mafia and criminals but force is not to be used against common people,” a senior official quoted the CM as saying.

A video, showing police using force on a Dalit family and the couple’s kids crying as they lay on the ground after drinking poison, went viral on Wednesday. The couple was taken to hospital immediately and is out of danger, said police. But the video triggered outrage, with former CM Kamal Nath condemning the ‘jungle raj’.

Chouhan ordered an inquiry on Wednesday night. Home minister Narottam Mishra said, “Taking serious note of the Guna incident, the CM has ordered a high level probe. A team of senior officials has been sent to Guna to probe the circumstances under which the incident took place, who is responsible for it and what action should be taken against them.”

Earlier in the day, the government had tweeted that Rajkumar Ahirwar and his wife had taken poison after being “instigated by some people”. The 45-bigha government land in Jaganpur Chak was allotted to a set up a college but was encroached upon by ‘land mafia’ Gappu Pardhi, said a government tweet. He had ‘rented’ it out to Rajkumar Ahirwar, who was farming on it. On Tuesday, when revenue officials and police went to clear the encroachment, the Dalit family opposed the eviction, saying they had finished sowing the farm after taking loans from locals.

The video shows cops raining lathis on the couple and a policewoman kicking them. In the melee, two of them drank poison and fell down on the ground, and their children sat wailing beside them.

After the video went viral, former CM Kamal Nath tweeted: “Where is the Shivraj government taking this state? How can innocent children be beaten up so mercilessly? If there’s any dispute on the land, it can be solved through legal means, not by taking the law in one’s hand and beating up a family, children and their relatives. Were they beaten up because they were Dalits and poor farmers? If the government doesn’t take strong action against those responsible, Congress will not sit quietly.”

Guna SP Tarun Nayak had earlier denied that force was used. “Only when some people obstructed police from taking the duo to hospital that police used force. Our priority was to protect the lives of those who had taken poison. They are out of danger now, only because they were brought to hospital in time, which is why some force was used,” he said, adding that Gappu Pardhi is a history sheeter with 13 criminal cases registered against him in the past.

A video statement of then Guna collector S Vishwanathan, tweeted by Jansampark department, has him saying that the land was allotted to build a model college in Guna at a cost of Rs 12 crore. “It was encroached by Gappu Pardhi. When officials went to measure the land, Pardhi’s worker Rajkumar Ahirwar and his wife took pesticide. Police realized the situation was getting out of control. They brought it under control and took the couple to hospital. Even when they were trying to take them to hospital some people interested in holding on to the land obstructed them,” he said.

Source: Times of India

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