Bhopal/Indore: With a leader owing allegiance to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) landing in the police net for allegedly inciting the violence prior to the lynching of a man in Dhar, a political tug of war has broken out between the ruling Congress and the opposition camp on Thursday.
A 35-year-old man was lynched, while six of his friends were seriously injured on Wednesday when a group of villagers attacked them amid rumours that a child-lifter gang was on the prowl in Baroli village in Dhar district. All of them were farmers and had gone to the village apparently to recover money given to local farm labourers by one of them.
Congress leaders on Thursday released old pictures of one of the accused who has been arrested in the case. The man was identified as Ramesh Junapani, a sarpanch and BJP leader. In the pictures, Junapani is seen sharing space with former chief minister and senior BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Soon after, state BJP chief Rakesh Singh said the accused may be associated with any political party, but that doesn’t lessen the gravity of the crime.
Singh said the Congress government cannot brush aside its duties of maintaining law and order by coming up with a BJP link in the violence, adding, “Criminals of any caste, creed, religion or political affiliation should be treated in a similar manner.”
“Despite a family losing its sole bread winner, Chief Minister Kamal Nath has discharged his responsibility by putting out a tweet, while none of his ministers had the time to meet his bereaved family members in Indore,” Singh told News18.
“A mob thrashed some people and killed one of them. But what is more unfortunate is that the state machinery remained idle for hours. The victims had intimated officers of the nearby police station, but three constables reached the spot only after these men were beaten up mercilessly,” the BJP leader said.
He also hit out at the government for announcing an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the family of Ganesh Patel who was killed in the incident. “Is the amount enough for a widow and their child to sustain their lives?” Singh said. Patel’s last rites were performed in his native village on Thursday and close to 2,000 persons attended the event.
Congress’ media cell in-charge Shobha Oza said lynching, as a tradition, has been introduced by the BJP and the latest incident is an example of the same.
“Be it Una or Dadri, BJP leaders’ names always pop up in connection with these incidents. However, in MP, a Taliban-style rule won’t prevail anymore as a government under Nath is in charge,” Oza said.
“When the Congress government in 2018 had formulated anti-lynching laws, it was the BJP that had vehemently opposed it,” Oza said, adding the saffron camp should feel ashamed that a BJP leader has been arrested in the Dhar incident.
Health Minister Tulsi Silawat said the government will pay for the medical expenses of the injured who are undergoing treatment.
Meanwhile, condemning the incident, DGP VK Singh said the instead of filming the gruesome act on their cellphones, local people should have intervened to stop the attack. While police cannot shirk their responsibility, people should have also tried to stop the violent mob, he said.
The DGP’s statement came after Chouhan took to Twitter to condemn the incident, alleging police had failed to prevent the attack despite being informed about the visit of the victims to the village.
Along with his tweet, the former chief minister posted a video of the incident that showed people filming the mob violence on their mobile phones.
"The incident was quite saddening and unfortunate. Police will initiate necessary measures (to prevent such incidents). But there is also an urgent need to seriously look at society's mentality," the DGP told reporters.
Three persons who were part of the mob have been arrested, while the inspector in-charge of the Manawar police station, under whose jurisdiction the incident took place, a sub-inspector and three to four other policemen have been suspended, he said.
"Other policemen will face departmental action if it is found that they have shown dereliction in performing their duties," Singh said, while appealing to people to not participate in mob violence and ignore rumours.
(With inputs from PTI)