Dalit couple consumes poison after land taken away, beating by police

The Madhya Pradesh government ordered on Wednesday a high-level inquiry into the case of a Dalit couple consuming pesticide in Guna district after police allegedly tried to remove them from a piece of land.

The couple and local residents said they were forcibly removed but the local administration refuted these allegations and said a local land mafia was resisting an anti-encroachment drive by the police and using poor people to thwart the government’s efforts.

The couple — Ramkumar Ahirwar, 37, a resident of Janakpur Chak village and his wife Savitri Ahirwar, 35 — were rushed to the district hospital in Guna on Tuesday where their condition was said to be stable, added police.

“On a complaint of a revenue officer in Guna, police on Wednesday registered an FIR against Ramkumar, Savitri, Shishupal Ahirwar [younger brother of Ramkumar] and four others, all residents if Janakpur Chak village for deterring him from discharging his government duty. A separate case has been registered against Ramkumar and Savitri for making an attempt to commit suicide,” said Tarun Nayak, superintendent of police.

A video of the incident went viral on social media where police personnel could be seen beating Ahirwar’s brother and sister-in-law. Late on Thursday, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s secretariat ordered the transfer of collector S Vishwanathan and superintendent of police Tarun Nayak. It also ordered a high-level inquiry.

Senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member Jyotiraditya Scindia said, “Guna incident is unfortunate. I had a discussion with chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and requested him to take action against insensitive and irresponsible officials. Taking a serious note of the incident the CM has ordered shifting of Guna collector and SP.”

Vishwanathan refuted allegations that the family was beaten up and harassed by the administration.

The collector said, “The land at Janakpur Chak was earmarked for a science college but a land mafia Babbu Padri is trying to encroach upon the land by using poor people.” He alleged that Ahirwar and his family were being used by Padri to encroach upon the four acre land.

“The government had allocated the fund of ~12 crore to PWD for construction of the science college one year ago. The administration was trying to free the land from encroachment for a long time…Ramkumar Ahirwar and his family resisted,” said Vishwanathan.

State Congress president Kamal Nath said, “In which direction is Shivraj government taking the state… If there was any land dispute the same could have been addressed legally.”

BJP state spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal said, “The government will provide all the possible help to the family and will not allow any land mafia to use poor to encroach upon the land.”

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