A tribal woman was set ablaze in Guna district of Madhya Pradesh by a group of village strongmen who had encroached upon the agricultural land of the victim’s family. Police have arrested three persons and charged them for attempt to murder.
The woman, Rampyari Bai, 38, who belongs to the Saharia tribe that falls in the category of particularly vulnerable tribal group (PTVG), received 80 per cent burns. She had been shifted to Bhopal for treatment and is in critical condition, police said.
The incident occurred on Saturday afternoon in Dhanoria village of Bamori tehsil in Guna district. The accused also reportedly filmed the incident and tried to pass it off as an attempt to kill self by the woman.
Guna Superintendent of Police Pankaj Shrivastava told THE WEEK that the three accused – Hanumat, Pratap and Shyam Kirar - named by Arjun Saharia, husband of the victim, have been arrested. The three are charged with attempt to murder.
Shrivastava said that according to the preliminary probe, the accused had encroached upon the land of the Saharia couple and the matter had reached the court of tehsildar. In May this year, the court ruled in favour of the tribal couple and the possession of land was given to them.
However, on Saturday, when Rampyari went to the farm, she found the accused engaged in sowing activity there and tried to stop them. The accused poured diesel (reportedly taken from the tractor used for farming) and set her ablaze. “There is no indication of the woman trying for self-immolation,” the SP said, adding that the woman was in a critical condition and was not able to give a statement.
Shrivastava said that though a police case was earlier filed over land encroachment issue, the couple did not seek police protection. Local sources, however, said that Arjun Saharia had given an application citing threat to life from the accused to Bamori police on June 23, but the police failed to take any action.
After the incident, senior officials, including district collector Frank Noble.A, SP Shrivastava, and Gwalior range inspector general of police (IG) Shrinivas Verma reached the village, sources said.
Kamal Nath attacks govt
Former chief minister and Madhya Pradesh Congress Chief Kamal Nath attacked the government over continuing excesses on tribes in the state.
In a series of tweets, Kamal Nath attacked the government for the incident. “Excesses on tribals are not stopping in Shivraj Singh Chouhan government. Case of a Saharia tribal woman being set ablaze by pouring petrol has come to light in Dhanoria village of Guna. The woman is in critical condition. The husband of the woman has said that he had made an application regarding a threat to safety to police on June 23, but protection was not given.”
He added, “I want to ask why the government has such an enemy-like attitude towards tribal communities. When would tribals become safe in the state?”
He further requested the chief minister to make available the best medical treatment for the victim woman and protection for her entire family. Also the family should be immediately given compensation and the accused should be given stringent punishment, Nath tweeted.