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Saturday, September 26, 2020

Drive to clear land: After Dalit couple suicide bid, Guna Collector, SP out

A photograph of the children of Rajkumar Ahirwar and wife Savitri, who are stable, crying next to their unconscious mother on Tuesday, and a video showing police beating up Ahirwar’s younger brother had gone viral.

Written by Milind Ghatwai | Bhopal | Updated: July 16, 2020 8:40:08 am
Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Dalit couple suicide, Guna Dalit couple suicide, madhya pradesh news Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced the action against the Collector and SP late on Wednesday night. (File Photo)

S Vishwanathan and SP Tarun Nayak were removed late on Wednesday night and a probe ordered after a Dalit farmer couple consumed pesticide to protest against an anti-encroachment drive, with police allegedly beating up a relative in response.

A photograph of the children of Rajkumar Ahirwar and wife Savitri, who are stable, crying next to their unconscious mother on Tuesday, and a video showing police beating up Ahirwar’s younger brother had gone viral.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced the action against the Collector and SP late on Wednesday night.

Officials had arrived with a bulldozer at the 45-bigha Guna land reserved for a government post-graduate college, a major chunk of which has allegedly been encroached upon by Ahirwar. An attempt to clear it in November last year had been blocked by the family of Gappu Pardhi, who claims to own the land.

Ahirwar told the officials that he had taken the land on lease and raised loan to cultivate it, and the family would have no option but to end their lives if their crop was destroyed.

After the couple consumed pesticide, the police had booked them as well as others for trying to obstruct public officials on duty.

A video that went viral on social media showed the police beating the man with batons severely. (Twitter/OfficeOfKNath)

Before he was removed, Collector Vishwanathan told The Indian Express that the police had to use force as Ahirwar’s relatives were not letting them take the couple to hospital. He also said the government had sanctioned Rs 12 crore for construction of the college, and any further delay could have resulted in it being shifted to another district.

The Collector said the Ahirwars might have been instigated by someone to take the step, to stop the team from clearing the encroachment.

Home Minister Narottam Mishra said senior officials from Bhopal will probe the incident and take action against whoever was responsible.

The Congress said the video of police officers thrashing Ahirwar’s relatives and bundling them into a vehicle showed that it was “jungle raj” in Madhya Pradesh. “If there was some dispute about the land, it could have been solved legally… Will the government show similar alacrity in clearing encroachment on thousands of acres of government land by so-called jan sevaks (people’s servants)?” asked former CM Kamal Nath.

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