Dalit couple, son shot dead in M.P. village, 4 arrested, 3 on the run

Four persons, including the main accused, said to be a village strongman, were held while three others are on the run

October 25, 2022 06:05 pm | Updated October 26, 2022 08:40 am IST - Raipur

Officials at Deonar village in Madhya Pradesh’s Damoh district where three members of a Dalit family were shot dead. Photo: Twitter/@SP_DAMOHMP

Officials at Deonar village in Madhya Pradesh’s Damoh district where three members of a Dalit family were shot dead. Photo: Twitter/@SP_DAMOHMP

Three members of a Dalit family — an elderly couple and their young son — were gunned down while a fourth one was critically injured allegedly by a neighbouring family in Madhya Pradesh’s Damoh district on Tuesday. 

The incident has sparked protests in the area and national outrage over the safety of Dalits in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Madhya Pradesh, with Bahujan Samaj Party chief and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati slamming the Madhya Pradesh government for failing to prevent atrocities against marginalised communities.

The victims are Ghamandi Ahirwar (60), Rajpyari Ahirwar (58) and Manak Lal Ahirwar (30) and Manak’s younger brother Mahesh who is battling for life at Damoh district hospital. The victims and the family of the accused are both residents of Deonar village of Damoh, nearly 240 km from State capital Bhopal.

Four persons, including the main accused Jagdish Patel, said to be a village strongman, were arrested till Tuesday evening while three others were on the run.

Jagdish, who works as a security guard with a private firm, has purportedly told the police that Manak had sexually harassed his wife and the murder was to avenge the same.

According to Jagdish’s version, his wife had accused Manak of harassing her leading to an argument between the two families on Tuesday. Jagdish and his family members allegedly barged into Ahirwars’ home around 6.30 a.m. on Tuesday and fired indiscriminately at them with Jagdish’s licensed firearm, said Damoh Superintendent of Police D.R. Teniwar. So far, there has been no evidence of any other weapon being used, Inspector General, Sagar Range, Anurag told reporters.

Police form teams

According to the police, the seven accused — including a woman and a man who himself was accused of molestation — then fled the spot and dispersed in different directions. They have been booked for murder and attempt to murder besides other relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Atrocities Against Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Act. Jagdish was arrested in the afternoon while the police have formed different teams to nab the remaining accused.

Police said other angles would also be probed. At least two other theories — a land dispute and an argument between the women of the two families leading to an escalation and other members getting involved — have also emerged.

Mr. Anurag said a land dispute was unlikely because the victims’ family did not own much land and worked as workers in beedi rolling units.

The relatives of the victims’ family and others from the community staged a demonstration at Damoh with the bodies, demanding strict action against the guilty. They said bulldozers must be used to raze the “illegal” property of the accused.

The police managed to pacify the protesters but tension prevailed in the area due to which heavy police presence remained in the village through the evening when the bodies were cremated.

Congress for probe

Reacting to the triple murder, Madhya Pradesh Congress president and former Chief Minister Kamal Nath said the incident was very unfortunate and demanded a high-level probe.

Ms. Mayawati too condemned the incident and tweeted: “This incident reminds of the dark ages, it exposes not only the law and order situation under the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh, but also the failure of the government to provide security to the poor, dalits, tribal and women. There should be no leniency while dealing with the criminals. The BSP demands strict action."

The area where the incident took place is the stronghold of the BSP.

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