Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Wednesday night announced that the Guna collector and the superintendent of police have been removed from their posts after a Dalit farmer couple consumed poison to protest against an anti-encroachment drive. An inquiry has also been ordered into the incident.
The couple on Tuesday drank poison after the police allegedly tried to destroy their crop during an anti-encroachment drive. The police and the district administration claimed that the couple were cultivating their crop on government-owned land. The Guna district administration wanted to vacate the land to build a college.
A video of the incident, shot by onlookers, showed policemen brutally beating up some residents with sticks. A woman was seen pleading with the police to stop and trying to shield a man from the blows. A child was seen following the couple. Some other pictures showed the farmer couple’s children holding them and crying as they fell unconscious after consuming poison.
Rajkumar Ahirwar and his wife Savitri are now in stable condition, reported The Indian Express. The police have booked the couple as well as others for trying to obstruct public officials on duty.
The action against Collector S Vishwanathan and SP Tarun Nayak was initiated after the video of the purported incident went viral. “Any kind of vandalism will not be tolerated,” said Chief Minister Chouhan, according to India Today. “A high-level inquiry has been ordered in Guna incident and action will be taken against whoever is guilty in this incident.”
Before he was removed, Collector S Vishwanathan told The Indian Express that the police had to use force as Ahirwar’s relatives were not letting them take the couple to hospital.
Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath attacked the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party after the incident, calling Chouhan’s rule a “jungle raj”. He tweeted the viral video of the incident. “Where is this Shivraj government taking the state?” asked Nath. “What kind of jungle raj is this? A large number of policemen on a Dalit peasant couple in Cantt police station area in Guna.”
The Madhya Congress Pradesh Congress also lashed out at the ruling party incident and blamed it for the police brutality. “Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s shameless display of arrogance,” the party tweeted. “His police force brutally beat up a farmer couple and tore the woman’s clothes. The children are screaming. The end of this blind, deaf and dumb government is near.”