In a rare instance,arrest warrants have been issued against leaders of three political parties for allegedly instigating a mob to set afire a settlement of Pardhi tribe in Chothiya village of Betul district.
Congress MLA Sukhdev Panse,former SP MLA Sunilam and many BJP leaders are among the 82 accused in a chargesheet filed by the CBI last week in a Special Court in Jabalpur.
The CBI took over the case in August 2009 after allegations by victims that the local police and administration were hand-in-glove with the accused,who were influential and affiliated with political parties. The agency did not make any arrests in the case before filing the chargesheet. The court issued warrants against the accused,said advocate Raghvendra Kumar,whose petition had led to the CBI probe.
The arson was an act of revenge by villagers,who were egged on by politicians,after an OBC woman was raped and murdered allegedly by some Pardhis,who did not belong to the village.
Local activists had alleged that some Pardhi women were raped in retaliation,but no case has been filed so far.
The police,having sensed the anger among locals,asked the Pardhis to leave the village immediately and escorted many to Bhopal. In the melee,two Pardhis lost their lives. While a case has been registered in connection with the death of two Pardhis,the arrest warrants and the chargesheet relate to the case of arson that took place on September 9,2007.
Angry villagers set afire Pardhidhana,a cluster of 11 legal and several illegal houses,and later forced the administration to bulldoze them. The Pardhis said they had helped the police nab the persons involved in the rape and murder at Kunbi village. The local villagers and their elected representatives had said the anger against Pardhis stemmed from their alleged criminal activities.
The Pardhis have since then stayed in relief camps and changed locations but the villagers are no mood to let them return. The next hearing will take place on May 21.