The family of a 65-year-old Adivasi man has alleged that he was beaten to death by the Dhar police while he was waiting outside a grocery shop on Friday morning. The district administration, however, claims the senior citizen died of a heart attack on seeing the police.
The deceased, Tibu Meda, of Holimal village in Khargone district, had gone with his son-in-law Sanjay Meda to Gujari village in the neighbouring Dhar district as the shop in his village had run out of supplies.
“The police came in four or five vehicles, and started beating us with batons without provocation,” said Mr. Sanjay Meda. “We ran in different directions. I received injuries on my legs.”
Denying the allegation, Dhar Collector Shrikant Banoth told The Hindu the elderly man had died due to a cardiac arrest on seeing the police approach them with blaring sirens. “The postmortem report has revealed he died of cardiac arrest and there were no bruises on the body,” he claimed.
The administration had recorded statements of witnesses, he added. “The police had gone there to impose social distancing norms in view of the lockdown. They had received a complaint of crowding in the market area. The man may have died in shock as the police came in vehicles sounding sirens.”
However, Congress MLA from Dharampuri, Panchilal Meda, who reached the spot after the incident, told reporters he had seen bruises on Tibu Meda’s body.
“I have seen his body, and there are bruises on the face and the head. I request the Collector to get the body examined at the district hospital. Those involved in the incident must be punished,” he said.
Tibu had gone to the Gujari market as the shop in his village had run out of stock, said M.D. Choubey, State president of the Kendriya Manav Adhikar Suraksha Sangathan, a human rights group. “There are open bruises on his body. The police didn’t even enquire with them [the villagers], but started beating them,” he alleged.
Accusing the administration of covering up the incident, Madhuri Krishnaswamy of the Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan demanded that another post mortem be conducted by the Medical Board and a case be registered against the accused policemen under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and they be arrested. She has also demanded compensation for the victim’s family under the Act.