After two tribal men were lynched on May 3 by a mob in Seoni district on suspicion of killing a cow, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Saturday ordered the transfer of the district police chief and suspended the entire staff of a local police station. He also ordered setting up of a special investigation team (SIT).
Sampat Bhatti of Sagar village and Dhansa Inwati of Simaria village were assaulted by a mob of 15-20 people, allegedly belonging to right-wing organisations, resulting in their deaths in a local hospital on day of the incident.
Chouhan’s directions came after tribal organisations accused police of planting beef at the house of Dhansha, and staged a protest in Seoni, demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation probe and demolition of the houses of the accused.
“Instead of villagers, police made two accused as eyewitnesses in the case of recovery of beef. It was planted by police to save saffron activists,” accused Jaswinder Singh, state secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). He was seconded by Anshu Markam, spokesperson for Jai Adiwasi Yuva Sangthan (JAYS).
Villagers present at the spot did not see any beef at the house of the accused, according to Sandesh Saiyyam, vice president of the Madhya Pradesh Adivasi Vikas Parishad. Police planted the cow meat, he alleged.
“This is a conspiracy to defame tribals and to prove them beefeaters, but our community always believe in saving the animals, whether it is a cow or a tiger,” Saiyyam said.
Leaders of different tribal organisations including JAYS, Gondwana Mahasabha and Madhya Pradesh Adiwasi Vikas Parishad on Thursday met the kin of the victims and termed the lynching a conspiracy against tribal people.
Chouhan on Saturday reviewed the investigation into the case. Seoni superintendent of police Kumar Prateek was ordered to be transferred, according to a statement the chief minister’s office.
A special team comprising additional chief secretary, home, Rajesh Rajora, additional director general of police, Akheto Sema, and Shrikant Bhanot, secretary, Madhya Pradesh Board of Secondary Education, has been constituted to look into this incident. The team will visit Seoni on Monday.
The entire staff of Kurai police station and Badalpur police post, under whose jurisdiction the incident took place, have been removed, the statement said. Chouhan said the accused have been arrested, compensation had been disbursed to the kin of the two deceased, and jobs to legal heirs were being arranged.
The chief minister took action under pressure from the opposition party and the tribals, said state Congress chief Kamal Nath. “The state government was trying to whitewash the killings and give a clean chit to the administration,” Nath alleged.
The guilty officials should be suspended and a high-level inquiry must be constituted in place of the SIT, Nath demanded. He also claimed outfits associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party were behind the incident.
(with PTI inputs)