Four days after a Dalit farmer couple in Guna district attempted suicide to resist against the destruction of their crops, the Guna district administration has issued a show cause notice to Gabbu Pardhi — who allegedly occupied the land illegally and leased it to the couple for cultivation — asking why he should not be externed for his alleged criminal record.
Seeking a response by July 20, District Collector Kumar Purushottam has also enclosed with the notice 16 criminal cases lodged against the former BSP councilor between 1993 and 2019, including murder, attempt to murder, dacoity attempt and criminal intimidation.
The last case against Pardhi relates to an incident on December 14, 2019, when Pardhi and six other family members, including his wife, sons and daughters in law, obstructed a team of revenue and police officials when they came to take possession of the land in Jaganpur Chakk, which the government had reserved for a model college.
No member of the Dalit farmer family, who worked as sharecroppers even in 2019, was an accused in the case.
Served under the Madhya Pradesh State Security Act, 1990, the notice says he and his accomplices terrorised people in the past, threatened them not to depose against him in court or forced them to arrive at a settlement.
At the centre of the dispute is a piece of nearly 40 bigha land which Pardhi claims he has occupied for more than three decades. The collector said the land, which Pardhi had occupied in 2005, had been transferred to the higher education department in June 2018. In November 2019, the sub-divisional magistrate had issued an order that the land be cleared of illegal occupation and marked out.
The collector said the higher education department wanted to begin construction on the land and an order was issued on July 13. When an official team reached the spot on July 14, the Ahirwar couple consumed pesticide. When the team was taking Rajkumar Ahirwar and his wife Savitri to hospital, Rajkumar’s younger brother Shishupal charged at officials, leading to lathicharge, with the incident now a subject of inquiries.
Guna SP Vivek Singh said externment was a long drawn process. Statements of people at the receiving end of Pardhi’s alleged criminal activities will be recorded and he will be heard before the final decision is taken by the District Magistrate, he said.
Gabbu, who has already challenged the administration’s decision to reject his claim over the land in the High Court, said he will reply to the externment notice after consulting his lawyer. He claimed he had been acquitted in most of those cases and some were lodged only because he belongs to the Pardhi community, classified as a criminal tribe in the past.
The BJP and Congress have accused each other of protecting Pardhi despite his criminal antecedents and tendency to occupy government land.