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MP: Tribal Man Shot Dead in Vidisha Over Suspected Theft of Wood From Jungle

Kashif Kakvi |
28-year-old shot dead, three injured after forest guards opened fire; Not an isolated incident of atrocities against tribals in MP.
MP: Tribal Man Shot Dead in Vidisha Over Suspected Theft of Wood From Jungle

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: Flickr

Bhopal: In a tragic incident, a 28-year-old tribal man was shot dead and three others were injured after forest guards opened fire on them near Katiyapura forest beat in Vidisha district of Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday night over the suspected theft of dry wood. 

According to the police, the incident occurred 80-km away from Vidisha district headquarters around 10 pm when over 10 tribals of Raipur village, allegedly carrying stolen dry wood were caught by forest personnel who later opened fire, killing Chain Singh Bhil and injuring three others.

The deceased Chain Singh along with the others injured, identified as Mahendra Singh, Bhagwan Singh and Road Singh Bhil along with six others, were allegedly stealing wood from the forest when the incident happened, said forest officials. 

District Forest Officer Rajbir Singh told NewsClick, "the South range officer Lateri got a tip-off around 8:30 pm that a few people were sealing the wood from the jungle. Acting on a tip-off, two patrolling teams of North and South Latehri forest range were rushed to the area for patrolling when around 10 pm, 10 odd villagers bumped into the forest guards near Khatipura village."

"In a bid to escape, the tribals left the wood behind and rushed back into the jungle. As the forest guards followed them into the jungle, the villagers began pelting stones," Rajbir said. 

According to Singh, the tribals were soon joined by others from the village and the situation was escalating when the forest guards fired in self-defence and escaped sensing the imminent threat.  "One person died and three others were injured when forest personnel opened fire in self-defence," Singh told NewsClick. 

However, Road Singh Bhil (30), one of the three injured, while speaking to the media said, "we had gone to collect wood for cooking when we were caught by the forest officials who opened fire on us and in a blink of an eye Chain Singh died on the spot and three others got injured in the firing."

On the complaint of Chain Singh's brother Preetam Singh, Police lodged a First Information Report (FIR) against two officials under sections 302 (murder) 307 (attempt to murder) and 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) at mid-night at the Lateri police station. 

As the issue of tribal death triggered controversy, Home Minister Narottam Mishra on Wednesday morning announced an Ex-Gratia of Rs 20 lakh for the family of the deceased while five lakh each to those who were injured in the incident.

"A judicial probe has also been ordered into the matter while the responsible forest personnel will be suspended," Mishra told reporters. 

Accusing the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for inflicting atrocities on the tribals in the state, Congress President Kamal Nath Tweeted, "In most cases of atrocities on tribals, it's either the BJP workers or the administration on the government's direction. (The) Government never takes strict action against the accused and disposes of the matter by offering ex gratia."

In another Tweet, Nath demanded a government job for the family of the deceased Chain Singh.

Two tribals were beaten to death in Seoni district in suspicion of cow smuggling in the first week of May this year. All the 14 accused in the case are associated with right-wing groups like Ram Sena and Bajrang Dal. 

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