MP: Dalit Beaten to Death in Sagar District, Home Vandalised
Bhopal: A 20-year-old dalit man was beaten to death, his home vandalised and his mother and sister were assaulted by so-called upper-caste men in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh’s Sagar district last Thursday.
Notably, both BJP and Congress are wooing the state’s 16% dalit population. Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of a Rs 100-crore Sant Shiromani Gurudev Ravidas memorial in Sagar’s Badtuma village earlier this month and Congress national president Mallikarjun Kharge promised a university after the revered dalit icon if the party is voted to power.
Nitin Ahirwar’s family was attacked after they refused to withdraw an assault case lodged against the attackers in 2019. The family had lodged an FIR against the attackers after they started allegedly molesting their 23-year-old daughter on the streets. The latest FIR, however, mentions only the assault, not the molestation.
According to the Sagar Police, upper-caste men armed with sticks and rods barged into Nitin’s home in his absence at 8 pm. They threatened his father Raghuveer Ahirwar (50), a resident of Barodiya Nonagir village, and his mother Badi Bahu and sister with dire consequences if they didn’t withdraw the case.
Fearing the consequences, Ahirwar’s wife agreed to withdraw the case, but the men started looking for Nitin, the youngest of the four children. A couple of minutes after they left, according to the FIR, Nitin’s mother heard a scream coming from the bus stand.
“They were thrashing Nitin black and blue. One of the accused kept one of his feet on his chest while the others were thrashing him. When his mother and sister tried to save him, they ripped off their clothes and assaulted them,” Nitin’s cousin Aakash Ahirwar (23) alleged. “When they rushed him to the hospital, the attackers razed their mud house.”
Hours after Nitin’s death, the police lodged an FIR at Khurai Grameen Police Station against nine accused under 12 Sections of the IPC and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
“Eight of the nine accused have been arrested,” inspector Nitin Pal told Newsclick. “Revenue officials are looking for illegal encroachments of the accused to demolish them.”
When asked about the 2019 case, Pal said, “As per records, an FIR was lodged against four men under Section 294, 323, 34, 506 of the IPCS and SC/ST Atrocities Act in 2019 but the accused secured bail.”
The family alleged that the attackers belong to the influential Thakur community of Barodiya Nonagir village and are the sarpanch’s kin. According to a letter shared by Congress leader Arun Yadav on X, co-accused Komal Thakur is the representative of minister of urban development and housing and the region’s MLA Bhupendra Singh.
Aakash alleged that “Nitin’s elder brother Vishnu was assaulted at the bus stand when the family refused to withdraw the FIR in 2019”.
“Subsequently, the family left the village forever. When they approached the police with a written complaint and a video of the incident, the police refused to lodge the FIR,” he further alleged.
Aakash said that the police neither took action on the earlier FIR nor when Vishnu was assaulted.
The state government and the police swung into action after the Congress formed a six-member fact-finding team to look into the matter, former chief minister (CM) Digvijay Singh announced a visit to the family and Kharge launched a scathing attack on the state government over Modi’s silence on Dalit atrocities.
Kharge, a prominent Congress Dalit leader, who held a Jan Aakrosh Rally in Sagar two days before the incident [August 22], tweeted: “A Dalit was beaten to death in the Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh. Even her mother wasn’t spared. PM Modi, who is gimmicking to open a Saint Ravidas temple in Sagar, is silent on the ongoing atrocities against Dalits and tribals.”
Lambasting CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Kharge further tweeted: “The CM tries to hide his crimes and failure by washing the feet of the underprivileged only in front of the camera. Madhya Pradesh has become the laboratory of Dalit atrocities and has the highest rate of crimes against Dalits, three times the national average.”
Almost four days after the incident, when the police handed over Nitin’s body to the family, they refused to perform the last rites and demanded justice from the district collector and superintendent of police.
In a video clip, Nitin’s father, employed with a private company in Indore, is seen wailing. “We made several complaints to Harijan Kalyan Board against the ongoing oppression but they didn’t act. We knocked on all the doors crying for help but to no avail. They molested my daughter, assaulted my son, pressured us to withdraw the case and killed my son. There is no justice in the country.”
The family performed the last rites after district collector Deepak Arya gave written assurance to them to bulldoze the illegal construction of the accused, a government job for one of the family members, financial aid of Rs 10 lakh and reconstruction of their house within two days.
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