Guna police assault: Where the state went wrong

What is needed is a watertight anti-encroachment policy that doesn’t distinguish between rich and poor. Also, a policy that protects those who were doing their job as protectors of government assets.

 |  2-minute read |   18-07-2020
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A video from Guna in MP, showed the police beating a couple that later consumed pesticide in protest of being uprooted from government land they were illegally cultivating. This displayed the excesses police can commit when unsupervised by superiors.

The couple was Dalit, which gave the matter another spin. On Wednesday evening, the demand for CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s resignation was the top trend on Twitter. Soon after, the Guna DM S Vishwanathan, SP Tarun Nayak and Gwalior IG Raja Babu Singh were transferred by the state. Additionally, one sub inspector and six constables have been suspended. Public anger emanated from the violence committed on the Dalit couple by a male and female constable, resulting in the State making the DM, SP and IG the scapegoats. Undoubtedly the action will satisfy the public — most of whom don’t understand the intricacies of administration and who take sides based on caste identities.

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The land where Rajkumar and Savitri had sown their crop, after contracting a loan of Rs 2 lakh, belonged to the government and had been earmarked for a model college to be constructed. The land had been encroached upon by a local criminal called Gabbu Pardhi who had sublet the land to them.

A team from the local administration demarcated the land for the college. The couple who had cultivated the land said that they should be allowed to use the land for this crop. When the administration refused, they protested. The constables, in the absence of any superior officer, beat the couple. The couple consumed pesticide and were taken to the hospital.

Theoretically, every action by the police in a district has to be owned up by the SP, likewise for the civil administration by the DM. Yet assuming the SP and DM knew what was happening and should, therefore, be punished is wrong. There are multiple officers between the SP and the constables untouched by the events suggesting a political angle to the transfer. Clearly, the SP and DM were transferred because there are 25 by-elections due in the state. Sixteen of these by-elections are in the Gwalior Chambal region, which Guna is a part of. Heads should have rolled for the beating. However, the state only did what seemed right politically. What is needed is a watertight anti-encroachment policy that doesn’t distinguish between rich and poor, powerful and weak. Also, a policy that protects those who were doing their job of being protectors of government assets. The Madhya Pradesh government appeared weak and immediately buckled under pressure by transferring the district officials. If it really means well, it should start sensitization programmes of police personnel and clarify in which situations use of force is warranted.

(Courtesy of Mail Today)

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Rahul Noronha Rahul Noronha

The writer is Associate Editor, India Today.

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