A Pardhi adivasi who lost his brethren and home, and whose wife was gangraped in the 2007 caste violence in Multai, has asked Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi not to nominate sitting-MLA Sukhdeo Panse for the assembly polls next month. In 2007, Pardhis were forced to flee Multai’s Chauthiya village, 237 km south of Bhopal, after non-tribals led by local politicians went on a rampage following a rumour that a Pardhi had raped a Kunbi woman.

Mr. Panse, along with BJP leaders Raja and Toshan Pawar and several others, is being probed by the CBI for the murder of Bondru Pardhi and his wife Dodel Bai on September 11, 2007. Mr. Panse, Raja Pawar and others are also accused of gangraping ten Pardhi women who were fleeing to catch a train to Bhopal on September 10, 2007. Former Samajwadi Party MLA Sunilam is also facing trial on the charges of looting and burning the Pardhi hamlet.

Through High Court advocate Raghavendra Kumar in Jabalpur, a victim named Alsia Pardhi has written to Mr. Gandhi asking him to cancel Panse’s nomination as he has been chargesheeted by the CBI for heinous crimes.

Mr. Pardhi, now in a camp of internally displaced tribals in Betul, wrote: “Hon’ble Shri Rahul ji, We again thank you for taking such a bold and honest step for opposing the ordinance (to amend the Representation of the People Act) and stopping criminals from entering politics. We, the Pardhi are looking forward to you that your party and yourself will not give party nomination and ticket Mr. Sukhdev Panse.” (sic)

In his narration of the case he wrote: “Later on we learnt that apart from the money factor, for which the then Investigation Officer had to be shunted out after our written protest to the CBI Director, Mr. Sukhdev Panse was protected under the influence of Mr. Kamalnath, Member of Parliament from Chhindwara...” (sic)

Kamal Nath is the Union Minister of Urban Development and one of the six satraps of the Congress in Madhya Pradesh. Although the Congress has not announced its candidates, it has been widely reported that the sitting MLAs will be retained. The letter has been emailed and was posted to Mr. Gandhi on Monday.

Mr. Panse told The Hindu that it was up to his party to nominate him or not. “I was not at the scene of the crime. I only came there after the violence had finished. The matter is in the district court and I have not been convicted,” he said.

Advocate Kumar told The Hindu that on October 10, the Special CBI Court in Jabalpur is expected to decide upon two petitions filed by the victims. “The CBI said that it is not mandated to file a report on the gangrapes even though they had questioned the rape victims. We have filed a petition to make them disclose their findings. Also, we have demanded that the victims be allowed to testify in court. The CBI’s witnesses are non-tribals who have defended the accused.”