The Madhya Pradesh Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday came under attack from the ruling Congress party over the lynching of a farmer in Manawar tehsil of Dhar district on Wednesday. The state police have arrested BJP sarpanch of a village for instigating the crowd of around 200 persons that lynched a farmer and beat five of his associates brutally in Borai village near Manawar town—on the suspicion of them being child-lifters.
Ramesh Junapani, sarpanch of Junapani village, has been arrested for instigating the crowd, said A P Singh, Superintendent of Police, Dhar district.
“So far, five arrests have been made. We are taking help of the video of the incident to identify more persons who were involved in the incident,” said Singh, adding that six policemen, including Thana in-charge, a sub-inspector, assistant sub-inspector of the Manawar police station, and three constables have been suspended for negligence.
Yesterday, in the afternoon, a mob of around 200 persons attacked six persons in Borlai village on the suspicion of them being child-lifters. The six, all of whom were residents of Ujjain village, had gone to collect money paid to farm labourers of Khirakia village, who had reportedly taken advance payment, but had not showed up.
They had entered the village only after visiting the Khirakia police station and informing them about the purpose of their visit to the village.
On reaching the village, when the six men asked the labourers to turn up for work or return their advance, the farm labourers reportedly raised their voices, following which supporters of the farm-labourers started gathering. As the dispute intensified, supporters of the farm labourers gathered in large numbers. When the six men tried to escape, the crowd reportedly hurled stones at them and began shouting ‘bachcha chor’ (child lifters), suggest the preliminary investigation by the Police.
As the rumour spread like a wildfire, more and more villagers rushed to the spot and chased them away from Khirakia village. In the meanwhile, villagers also made calls to the neighbouring villagers about the escape of a “child-lifter gang” from their village. The mob finally surrounded them in Borlai village, about 25 km from Khirakia village.
In a video widely circulated on social media, the mob is seen using stone slabs, rods, wooden logs and stones for lynching of Ganesh Khati, a farmer, while the five others were injured. The incident is a sordid reminder of the disturbing trend of spreading fake news and lynchings. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath condemned the incident and State Health Minister Tulsi Silawat visited the hospital and met the injured persons.
“Such incidents shame humanity and can’t be tolerated. The administration has been asked to probe the entire matter. Instructions have been issued to take strict action against those found guilty in probe,” tweeted Nath.
Silawat, who visited the survivors at Choithram Hospital in Indore, announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the family of Ganesh, who was killed by the mob. The state government has set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the incident.
Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that there is a jungle raj (rule) prevailing in the state.
“This is a very unfortunate incident. Law and order have been completely destroyed in the state. The fear of the law has ended. This is called Jungle Raj. There should be a thorough investigation into this entire incident and strict action should be taken against the persons involved,” he said.
“Former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is mysteriously hiding the fact that it is his hand on the accused sarpanch’s head,” alleged state Congress media cell in-charge Shobha Oza.
She also tweeted pictures of Chouhan with Junapani.
According to a senior police officer, Khirakia and Borlai villages wore a deserted look as almost all the men have fled from the village.
The author is a freelancer based in Madhya Pradesh.