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MP: Protest Over Death of Tribal Student Turns Violent, Youth Killed in 'Police Firing’

Kashif Kakvi |
The clash which continued for an hour killed a youth, Bherulal, a resident of Mhow. Another youth, Sanjay, was injured by a gunshot in his leg.
MP: Protest Over Death of Tribal Student Turns Violent, Youth Killed in 'Police Firing’

Image for representational use only.(File Image)

Bhopal: A protest turned violent at Indore's Mau on Wednesday night owing to a delay in lodging an FIR over the suspicious death of a 22-year-old tribal student. The police, which lofted tear gas shells and bullets to control the mob, allegedly killed an 18-year-old tribal, while a passer-by factory worker was also hit with a stray bullet.

The tribals launched the protest after the family of the deceased student, who hails from Mandleshwar of Khargone district, alleged that she had been abducted by one Yadunandan Patidar from Mhow, was gang-raped, and killed. The family alleged that police are protecting the offender by refusing to lodge an FIR. Meanwhile, the police claimed that the landlord of the student informed Mau police that she died of electrocution.

Demanding action, the protesters blocked the road at around 6 pm with the dead body of the girl student. When protesters did not budge, police used mild force and dragged them a kilometre away. The police then took custody of the body and sent it for an autopsy.

It was around 9.30 pm when a mob of over 500 tribal protesters returned and reportedly attacked the police station with stones using the traditional weapon 'gopan'. The incident took the police station in-charge by surprise who reportedly then lofted tear gas shells and later resorted to bullets. 

The clash which continued for an hour killed a youth, Bherulal, a resident of Mhow. Another youth, Sanjay, was injured by a gunshot in his leg. As many as 13 cops including the Bargonda police station in-charge Bharat Singh Thakur sustained injuries.

As the issue triggered controversy, Congress raised the issue in the ongoing Assembly sessions.

Former Minister and MLA Vijay Laxmi Sadho alleged that the police forcefully conducted the final rites of the deceased student – as was done in the Hathras incident. The deceased student was a resident of Sadho's constituency.

He also cornered the government for “opening fire on protesters”, which purportedly led to the death of Bherulal. "Almost three hours after the protest broke out, the police lodged an FIR against Yadunandan Patidar at 9.15 pm. Why?" asked Sadho in the Assembly. 

Defending the police action, state Home Minister Narottam Mishra said in the Assembly during the zero hour that the police had already arrested the youth. Yet, the protesters were demanding that “the accused be handed over to them”. He said that the police opened fire in self-defence after an irate mob attacked the police station with stones. It “prompted the police to open fire” which led to the death of 18-year-old Bherulal and a leg injury to Sanjay. Compensations to the deceased and injured were announced.

 Mishra further said that two versions of the incident (related to the death of the woman) were coming in and prima facie “she died of electric shock while using a rod to heat water”. “The woman and the accused Patidar were known to each other,” Mishra said, adding that Patidar had been arrested and a case under Sections 302 (murder) and 365 (kidnapping) has been registered against him.

He said that 13 policemen including the SHO and a head constable were injured. A magisterial inquiry has been ordered by the chief minister.

Govind Singh, the leader of the opposition, questioned why the dead youth was shot in the chest when it's the norm to shoot in the leg to disperse a crowd. The home minister, according to ex-minister Sadho, was smearing her reputation by implying that she was living with the suspect.

Singh pointed out, “The deceased youth got shot in the chest which shows a vindictive attitude; not to disperse the mob.”

Congress leader Sajjan Singh Verma asked the home minister to announce Rs 1 crore compensation to the families of deceased tribals and a job to the family members. "Last year, a tribal died in police firing in Lateri tehsil of Vidisha. The government announced a judicial probe. But even after a year, neither the probe report came to the fore, nor action was taken. We demand a time-bound inquiry," he said.

When the home minister did not reply, the Congress members staged a walkout from the Assembly.

Sensing the gravity of the incident, Kamal Nath formed a Congress delegation comprising senior leader Kantilal Bhuriya and fellow MLAs Panchilal Medha, Bala Bachchan, and Jhooma Solanki besides Indore Congress in-charge Mahendra Joshi to visit Mhow and met the affected families on Friday afternoon.

Later, the ex-CM spoke to Madan Adiwasi, the father of Bherulal, over the phone and assured him of all help possible. He told the bereaved father that the issue had been taken up in the State Assembly and he had sent a team of Congress MLAs to meet him. Nath also said that a Congress government will be formed in the state after six months and the family will get protection.

FIR Against Families of the Deceased

The Indore police also lodged an FIR against 13 named and 90 unnamed persons under eight sections of the IPC accusing them of rioting and attempt to murder, for attacking the Badgonda police station in Mhow.

The father and mother of the deceased tribal girl -- Panchilal and Rekha Bai -- and the deceased Bhairulal are named in the police FIR. However, there have been no arrests yet.

Condemning the FIR, tribal leader and State Youth Congress President Vikrant Bhuria said, "The Police lodged an FIR against the parents of the deceased girl. Not just that, the police also booked Bherulal, who was slain during the protest. What kind of justice is this?"

 Former CM Digvijay Singh also tweeted demanding strict action.

Addressing a press conference in Datia on Friday, he alleged, "The accused, Patidar, is a member of the ruling party and the police were trying to prevent the FIR. The police have also erased the evidence by performing her last rites just like in the Hathras case."

The Indore district collector Ilayaraja T. formed a magisterial probe appointing Additional District Magistrate (ADM) Ajay Devsharma into the incident at the order of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure were imposed on Thursday morning in the area under five police stations in Mhow tehsil, said the Collector.

The chief minister also announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the firing victim’s family and a government job for the elder son in the family. Also, the CM has instructed that all arrangements for the education of the other three children in the family should be made at a tribal hostel and Rs 20,000 be paid in cash for the last rites of the deceased, according to the tweets on the official handle of the CM.

(With PTI inputs)

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