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MP: Police Action on Patwari’s ‘Killing’ Raises Questions on Illegal Sand Mining ‘Nexus’

A former Army man-turned-revenue officer Prasanna Singh, 40, was crushed to death in MP's Shahdol on November 27 while he was trying to stop illegal sand mining.
A former Army man-turned-revenue officer Prasanna Singh, 40, was crushed to death in MP's Shahdol on November 27 while he was trying to stop illegal sand mining.

Bhopal: The issue of illegal sand mining and its 'nexus' has once again raised its head in Madhya Pradesh, which awaits the results of the Assembly polls on December 3.

The murder of a 40-year-old revenue officer (patwari), Prasanna Singh in Shahdol on the night of November 27 when he was trying to stop illegal transportation of sand, is raising questions on policing and governance in Madhya Pradesh.

The teenaged daughter of the patwari has questioned the intention of sending his father to intercept illegal sand miners at night without police force, alleging that the police were working hand-in-glove with the sand mafia. On the other hand, the kin of main accused, Shubham Vishkarma, 25, arrested for the murder, have claimed that he is innocent.

"He was told that he would get Rs 1,000 pending wage but was taken to the police station instead, where police not only confiscated the tractor but also arrested him for the murder of the patwari. He was at home all night," the mother of Vishkarma claimed in a written complaint to Shahdol superintendent of the police on November 28.

To back her claim, she brought witnesses to testify before the Shahdol SP, Kumar Prateek, and also urged him to check her son’s mobile phone locations and call details. 

The accused’s uncle, Ramprakash Vishkarma, who works in a road construction company, told mediapersons, "The thakurs involved with illegal trade of sand mining are trying to make him a scapegoat," and demanded justice.

According to the police FIR, a patrolling team of revenue officers, including Prasanna Singh, intercepted the tractor-trolley transporting illegally mined sand near Son river in the Gopalpur area. When Singh was trying to stop the vehicle, the driver fled after running over him. Two other revenue officers accompanying him, ran away from the spot. 

It was only in the morning that the police picked up the body and sent it for post-mortem.

Hours later, the Shahdol police claimed to have arrested two men -- the driver and tractor owner -- invoking murder [302] and other relevant Sections of the Indian Penal Code. "Two people were arrested and the tractor used for sand mining was seized," said Prateek.

When asked about Shubham's mother's complaint, a senior officer said, "We are looking into the complaints. The innocent will not be punished."

After the autopsy, Singh’s body was cremated at Barron village in Rewa district. He was survived by his wife Gunja Singh (38), two daughters - Diya (14) and Samriddhi (10), and 5-year-old twin sons, Prateek and Pratyaksh. Having retired from the Army in 2016, Singh had joined the revenue department as a patwari in 2018 and was posted in the Beohari revenue division.

Consoling her mother and three siblings, Singh's 14-year-old daughter Diya asked: "Why was my father sent to patrol at night without police protection?"

Alleging that the police was hand-in-glove with the sand mafia, she said, "My father often used to say that they catch trucks smuggling sand in the night risking their life, but in the morning, police releases them after taking bribes. He was killed because he was an honest man, who fulfilled his duties irrespective of the consequences."

"He would have been alive, if he was corrupt," Diya said, demanding justice and support for the family as Singh was the lone breadwinner.

Madhya Pradesh has witnessed a number such cases in the past decade. Attacks on journalists, officials and RTI activists have become common. In 2012, a 32-year-old IPS officer Narendra Kumar met with the same fate as Singh in Morena district while he was trying to stop a tractor smuggling sand.

Reacting to the killing of the patwari, the opposition Congress demanded strong action in a press statement, while former Chief Minister and BJP leader Uma Bharti termed it "a blot and shame on the state, society and administration". 

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