A FLURRY of probes, transfers — including those of an IG and an SP on Sunday — and FIRs registered on serious charges such as attempt-to-murder and robbery against at least seven policemen who are absconding. The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh has turned up the heat on police in Balaghat after a team from the district’s Baihar station, led by a Muslim officer, arrested an RSS pracharak and allegedly assaulted him on September 25 over a purported anti-Islam post on social media.
The incident has also led to a political storm within the BJP that even overshadowed the ruling party’s state executive meet in Gwalior three days ago. While RSS zilla pracharak Suresh Yadav is recuperating at a private hospital in Jabalpur, the government on Sunday transferred IG (Balaghat Range) D C Sagar and SP Asit Yadav. Four other officers not connected to the case were also transferred as part of the reshuffle.
FIRs have been registered against additional SP Rajesh Sharma, Baihar station in-charge Zia-ul-Haque, sub-inspector Anil Ajmeria, assistant sub-inspector Suresh Vijaywar, and constables Abhay Singh, Dharmendra Tembhre and Kunjbihari Sharma under IPC sections 307 (attempt to murder), 392 (robbery), 147 (rioting), 323 (causing hurt), 506 (criminal intimidation), sections 294 (obscene acts) and 452 (house trespass). All of them are absconding, said police, adding that the robbery charge pertains to Yadav’s mobile phone having been taken as evidence.
According to sources, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who was in the UK when the police arrested Yadav, has been under severe pressure from within the party to take action. More so, after his rival and BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya asked how the administration could “beat a pracharak” inside an RSS office “in our government’’.
Chouhan has since sought sensitivity on the part of police and praised RSS pracharaks and “their sacrifices for the nation”. Home Minister Bhupendra Singh has contacted Yadav in hospital and said the police would now be introduced to RSS functionaries in their respective areas, before clarifying that he meant “social workers’’.
A day before his transfer, IG Sagar said a special investigation team has been formed to handle the case. Meanwhile, the political turmoil within the BJP has led to two MLAs being served showcause notices for seeking the removal of Agriculture Minister Gaurishankar Bisen, an MLA from Balaghat, for failing to stop the action against Yadav.
A few days ago, Yadav had posted a WhatsApp message on Hinduism and Hindu gods, recalling the riots in Godhra, Meerut and Muzaffanagar; warning Akbaruddin Owaisi, the brother of AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, for his hate speeches; and, ridiculing “secular eunuchs’’.
Following a complaint lodged by local Muslim youths, Baihar police moved to arrest Yadav after registering a case of hurting religious sentiment and promoting enmity on grounds of religion for the “anti-Islam post”.
Baihar station in-charge Haque had told The Indian Express at the time that he had kept his seniors in the loop about the arrest. He was accompanied by the additional SP when the police team went to take Yadav in custody, said police.
In their complaints and memoranda, the RSS functionaries described those who complained against Yadav’s post as “anti-socials’’ and alleged that some of them joined police in assaulting the pracharak. Local police, however, had a different account of the incident. “Yadav misbehaved with the police team, pushed them and refused to come out. At the station, he kicked an officer and ran away. He is an accused, how else do you deal with someone who refuses to cooperate?’’ said a head constable at the Baihar station.