Four days after an alleged skirmish between tribals and forest department officials in Siwal village of Burhanpur district, senior Congress leaders Digvijaya Singh and Jyoritaditya Scindia, along with a party MLA, have targeted their own government in Madhya Pradesh and sought an impartial probe and action against the officials who allegedly opened fire at the tribal people.
The skirmish took place on July 9 in the village, located about 35 km from the district headquarters, resulting in alleged pellet injuries to four tribal people. Three forest officials suffered injuries when the tribal people allegedly threw stones at them.
The tribal people allege that the forest officials had come to evict them, while the forest department claimed that its officials had gone to the village on reforestation work.
An FIR has been lodged by both sides at Nepanagar police station and a magisterial inquiry has been ordered into the incident. Burhanpur’s Superintendent of Police Ajay Singh told The Sunday Express that no arrest has been made so far and the police will wait for the magisterial inquiry to get over.
Leading the charge against the Congress government. former CM Digvijaya Singh tweeted, “Development of tribals and protection of their rights is the priority of the Kamal Nath-led Congress government. The (Burhanpur) incident is condemnable because it’s against the declared policy of the current government. The government should quickly act against the guilty officials.” Describing the incident as unfortunate, former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Saturday said Nath should order an impartial and transparent inquiry and take strict action against the officials found guilty.
Before senior leaders went public, Dr Hiralal Alawa, party MLA from Kukshi who is associated with a tribal group called Jai Adivasi Yuva Sangathan (JAYS), wrote to the CM and demanded action against officials and compensation for the tribal community people who suffered injuries. He alleged that a team of forest officials used a JCB machine to uproot standing crop on July 9, and when the tribals objected, they were fired at. He said the victims have submitted their claims under the Forest Rights Act.
Alawa said the incident took place at a time when the government has asked collectors to not evict any claimants and verify their claims again.
Late in the afternoon, CM Kamal Nath responded to Singh and Scindia’s remarks and stated on Twitter that a magisterial inquiry into the skirmish, and the incident of firing, had been ordered the very next day. “There will be impartial inquiry and no one will be spared,’’ he stated.