Several villagers have gathered outside Nepanagar police station in Burhanpur district of Madhya Pradesh since Tuesday to protest the alleged detention and beating of two tribal activists by forest officers.
The tribals of Nepanagar, about 330 km from Bhopal, have refused to leave until an FIR is registered against the forest officials for alleged kidnapping and wrongful confinement of the activists. The villagers had earlier written to the district collector and superintendent of police demanding action against the forest officials.
According to the villagers, activists Kailash Jamre (46) and Pyar Singh Waskale (35) were detained when they had gone to the district court of Burhanpur on August 30 to secure the release of two other villagers. They were allegedly taken to the range office and beaten overnight by forest officials.
Jamre, who is affiliated with Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangh, told The Indian Express, “There were around 10 people who took rounds at beating us up. They were drunk.”
The next morning, according to Jamre, they were taken to a government hospital for a check-up but the doctor was asked to make a simple report. It was after he had fallen unconscious on his way to the court that he was taken to hospital and given treatment for six days, he said.
When contacted, district forest officer for Burhanpur, Gaurav Choudhary denied the allegations. He said Jamre and Waskale had several offences under the Indian Forest Act registered against them, for which they were detained when spotted at the court.
Burhanpur Collector Praveen Singh Adhayach said, “We received a written complaint against the forest officials and ordered a preliminary investigation.”
While the protesting villagers refused to leave until their demands were heeded, Subdivisional Magistrate Visha Madhwani, who rushed to pacify them, said, “We are trying to explain to the villagers that an inquiry has been ordered and it will take some time before any decision can be taken. They have assembled in huge numbers without social distancing.”
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