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MP: Eyeing Civic Polls, BJP Govt to Withdraw Cases of Caste Violence From 2018

Kashif Kakvi |
Interestingly, the short-lived Congress government had also announced the withdrawal cases, after BSP chief Mayawati threatened to withdraw support of its two MLAs.
Madhya Pradesh Election Commission announced the dates of local body polls on Friday, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced to withdraw cases registered against dalits as well as upper caste men

Image Courtesy: IANS

Bhopal: Hours after the Madhya Pradesh Election Commission announced the dates of local body polls on Friday, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced to withdraw cases registered against dalits as well as upper caste men in connection with the April 2, 2018, Bharat Bandh violence.

The Congress, which came to power in Madhya Pradesh on December 17, 2018, after 15 years of BJP rule, had also announced to withdraw all the cases of political vendetta, including the cases of Bharat Bandh violence, on January 1, 2019. But, before the withdrawal would take place, the government fell with Jyotiraditya Scindia’s exit.

The call of Bharat Bandh on April 2 was given by the dalit outfits after the Supreme Court, on March 20, 2018, granted protection to a public servant from immediate arrest in SC/ST Atrocities Act -1989 case without a preliminary inquiry overturning the provisions of the Act that has a provision of immediate arrest. The clash broke out in Gwalior, Bhind and Morena districts of the Gwalior-Chambal region on April 2 between dalits and Thakurs, leaving seven people dead, including five dalits, and over a hundred people were reported injured.

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The Bharat Bandh violence had rocked the Hindi-speaking states – Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Jharkhand and witnessed violence. But, Madhya Pradesh’s Gwalior-Chambal region was the worst affected.

In Gwalior, Deepak Jatav (25) was shot at his tea shop. Rakesh Tamotiya (40), a labourer, was shot when he was returning home in Bhim Nagar and Vimal Jatav (30), an IAS aspirant of Dabra tehsil, was also shot dead. In Bhind, three people were killed – Akash Garg (16) and Pradeep (18), a native of Mehgaon, and Mahaveer Singh Rajawat (35), in Marchand village of Lahar panchayat. Rajawat was allegedly killed in police firing. In Morena, Rahul Pathak (21) was allegedly killed by his own friend Ramu Gurjar when he was trying to reload the gun on the day of violence at Subhash Nagar.

The BJP, which lost considerable seats in the Gwalior Chambal region after the incident, is planning to regain it with the move ahead of the civic polls starting from June 25, 2022. Suffered and enraged with the BJP, the dalits, which constituted over 20% of the population, voted for Congress as the party had promised to withdraw all cases of political vendetta, including Bharat Bandh violence cases. In contrast, Thakurs voted against the saffron party after CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan Tweeted, “Koi mai ka laal Reservation khatam nahi kar sakta (nobody can end Reservations),” soon after the violence in a bid to appease dalits.

Both the moves cost the BJP harshly. As a result, in the Gwalior-Chambal region, which has 34 Assembly seats, Congress won 26 seats in 2018, whereas the BJP won seven. The saffron party won 20 seats in the 2013 assembly elections, though. The party regained some seats in the 2020 by-polls after Jyotiraditya Scindia’s defection from Congress.

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Speaking to reporters on Friday morning CM Chouhan said, “On April 4 in 2018, Madhya Pradesh saw violent clashes, specifically in the Gwalior-Chambal region, between various communities owing to some misunderstanding. This led to various cases being registered against brothers of the dalit community as well as those from the general category. I met with members of both the communities who urged to withdraw the case in the presence of Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and Narendra Singh Tomar. Cases will be taken back in the interest of communal harmony.”

Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was in the meeting, tweeted the following morning, “Too many people have been booked in a clash broke out in Gwalior-Chambal region in April 2018 owing to a misunderstanding. The populist chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan took the matter seriously and decided to withdraw cases registered against all the community in connection with the violence.”

The Chief Minister, however, did not furnish details on how many cases would be withdrawn from both sides. NewsClick called Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department Rajesh Rajora for details, but despite repeated attempts, he did not respond to the calls.

This was not the first time when the Madhya Pradesh government announced the withdrawal of the cases of April 2 Bharat Bandh violence.

On January 1, 2019, almost two weeks after the Congress formed the government in Madhya Pradesh with the support of two BSP MLAs, then Law Minister PC Sharma announced, “We are going to withdraw the politically motivated cases filed by the previous BJP government in Madhya Pradesh in past 15 years against the Congress, Samajwadi Party (SP), BSP, Left parties, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activists, farmers, dalits, employees and journalists.”

The Congress, which has announced to withdraw all the cases of political vendetta in its Manifesto, announced to drop all the cases in a rush after BSP Chief Mayawati had threatened to withdraw support if Congress government did not act swiftly and withdraw the cases against the innocent persons framed in Bharat Bandh.

Months after the announcement, a joint team of the Law Department and police department held a meeting in Gwalior at Congress leader Ashok Singh’s house with leaders of both the communities. “The officials have agreed to withdraw 28 cases lodged in six police stations of Gwalior in which 166 people (mostly dalits) were named, and 3,580 were unknown,” said Suraj Rajora, an advocate who took part in the meeting representing dalits.

These FIRs were registered largely under sections 120B, 147, 148, 149, 34, 294, 362, 332, 333, 427 and under section 3/2 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984.

Sharing the list of the cases with the names of the accused, Rajora said, “The official was apprehensive about withdrawing the cases registered against dalits under section 307 (Attempt to Murder) of the IPC considering it as a heinous crime. But, after the heated argument, they agreed to withdraw it upon investigation. Many of the accused have also given a memorandum to collectors and MLAs of their respective areas. But, before the matter could proceed further, the Congress government fell.”

When asked about the recent announcement, Rajora said, “I hope this will not be one of the unfulfilled promises of CM Chouhan.”

Months after Congress lost the Government in MP, the Bhartiya Depressed Class League, established by Babu Jagjivan Ram and headed by Sudheer Mandiliya, held a press conference on July 1, 2020, in Gwalior thanking Kamal Nath for moving ahead to withdraw cases against dalits.

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