Bhopal: 2016 saw Shivraj Singh Chouhan firmly in the saddle as he completed his 11th year as Madhya Pradesh chief minister though he had to grapple with the situation arising out of the controversial police encounter in which eight suspected Simi activists were killed.
Chouhan also managed to win back RSS’ confidence after all did not seem to be well following police allegedly beating up Sangh pracharak Suresh Yadav in September at Balaghat district over a WhatsApp message with communal overtones.
He was also upbeat after CBI, the prosecution agency in the multi-crore Vyapam admission and recruitment scam, told the apex court that the electronic evidence in the rip-off was not tampered with.
The Congress has been alleging that the electronic evidence in the scam were tampered with by the state police to save Chouhan and his family.
Cow vigilantes too were seen in action in the first half of the year and in one such case, two Muslim women were beaten up at Mandsaur railway station on suspicion of carrying beef in July.
The state witnessed communal unrest in some parts.
After the encounter killings of suspected Simi activists who had mysteriously escaped the highly-fortified central jail here on Diwali night allegedly killing a security guard, questions were raised but Chouhan’s defence was that the police action was taken “for public good”.
Minutes after the encounter, Chouhan, who seldom speaks to the media, hurriedly convened a press conference to dub the undertrials as “terrorists” who posed a serious threat to society after escaping from the jail.
After the encounter, Muslims huddled in a mosque, on being denied permission to hold a public meeting. They claimed the killing was stage-managed.
Earlier, the community had often found the moderate Chouhan in their midst on Eids, once wearing a Muslim skull cap which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had refused to don.
After initial resistance, the state government agreed to a judicial probe into the encounter after the outcry and criticism by media and public.
The month-long Simhasta-Kumbh mela in the ancient city of Ujjain in April-May too made a political splash when BJP chief Amit Shah took a holy dip with the Dalit seers.
This drew the wrath of seers who said they were being divided on caste line for the first time.
The event also took a political hue with Congress blaming BJP for hijacking the event for political gain and siphoning off crores of rupees from the state exchequer.
Besides, the mela, considered to be one of the biggest congregations of Hindus, saw the participation of eunuchs for the first time despite the reservation of Hindu clerics.
After police action on Suresh Yadav, local Sangh Parivar leaders took to the streets in Balaghat and a confrontation between the RSS and the Chouhan government seemed imminent.
To mollify the RSS, the state government booked Balaghat Additional Superintendent of Police and other policemen and charged them with attempt to murder. The accused policemen, still at large, were suspended.
But RSS apparently wanted more. Finally, the Chouhan government shunted out Inspector General of Police and Superintendent of Police from Balaghat to placate it.
As the lower rungs of Sangh Parivar were still frowning, Chouhan flagged off a 5-month-long yatra from Amarkantak in Anuppur district – the origin of river Narmada – on December 11 with RSS at the helm of the event.
The event, called Narmada Seva Yatra, ostensibly aimed at turning the river pollution-free and maintaining the sanctity of the water body considered to be holy in Hindu scriptures.
At the start of the yatra, RSS general secretary Bhaiyaji Joshi heaped praises on Chouhan for his deep faith and respect for the holy river.
Then on December 19, in an apparent endorsement, senior RSS functionary Alok Kumar said Madhya Pradesh was a laboratory of Sangh Parivar’s ‘ekathma manavad’ (integral humanism).
Twenty-eight people hailing from the state perished in the derail incident of Indore-Patna Express near Kanpur on 20 November.
After 32 years of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, victims of the world’s worst industrial disasters and the organisations helping them rejoiced on December 7 when a local court issued notices to the then district collector and the then superintendent of police for allegedly helping Union Carbide Corporation CEO Warren Anderson to escape from the state capital and criminal prosecution in December 1984.
Anderson who died last year was facing charges of criminal liability in the compensation case for the disaster.
BJP also won a number of by-polls in the state that were held during the year including Shahdol (ST) Lok Sabha seat and three assembly seats.
During the end of the year, Aam Aadmi Party national convenor Arvind Kejriwal held a public meeting here. AAP has already raised cadres in several parts of the state with an eye on the 2018 assembly polls.
First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 14:57 IST
Gondia (Maharashtra): At least seven persons were killed in their sleep when a fire broke out in Hotel Bindal in this eastern Maharashtra town early on Wednesday, an official said.
“The blaze was noticed around 3.30 am when the victims were fast asleep. Six men have been charred to death. Some others are feared trapped inside,” Gondia police officer Jitendra Borkar told.
Five fire tenders and tankers were pressed into service to battle the flames which were brought under control after nearly seven hours.
A search is on to rescue some other guests feared trapped in the hotel. The cause of the fire is being investigated, Borkar added.
A tribal-dominated district, Gondia is around 170 km east of Nagpur and bordering Madhya Pradesh.
“Rescue work is underway and the fire brigade team is searching if any person is trapped inside the premises,” a fire officer said. Fire tenders were called from neighbouring Balaghat, Bhandara, Tumsar, Lanji and also from Adani Power Plant in Tirora to help douse the flames. There where nearly 15 guests staying in the hotel at the time of the mishap.
One person sustained serious injuries after he jumped from the second floor of the hotel following the fire. He died on way to Nagpur hospital, police said. Two bodies were charred beyond recognition while four others were found dead in their hotel rooms, they said.
On getting information, District Collector Abhimanyu Kale, Superintendent of Police Dilip Patil Bhujbal rushed to the site and supervised the rescue work. Police officials had a tough time in controlling the crowd that gathered outside the mishap site after the fire. The deceased were yet to be identified, police said, adding that two of them had apparently come to attend a marriage function.
First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 13:34 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It began like any other day. Anil Ajmeriya (30), sub-inspector at Madhya Pradesh’s Baihar police station in Balaghat district and father of a three-month-old girl, left for work as usual. In a few hours, however, everything was to change not only for him but for six others as well.The story took off on September 24 with an argument on WhatsApp group oninews1vavanchal, which has locals, journalists, political activists and cops as its members. Baihar resident Javaid and RSS local leader Suresh Yadav were involved in a verbal battle, in which, reportedly, Yadav made derogatory remarks against a particular community. A police complaint was filed against him the very next day.According to the police, Additional Superintendent of Police Rajesh Sharma summoned Yadav, who was then picked up by a team of police officers. On way to the police station, Yadav made a bid to escape. He allegedly ran into a pharmacy, owned by one Swami Asarti, near the police station. Cops claimed they had to use force to bring Yadav to the station, where he was put under arrest and subsequently released on bail.The story didn’t end there.An FIR against Yadav was registered around 9pm on September 25. At 4am the very next day, Yadav registered an FIR against the Addl SP, station house in-charge Zia-ul-Haq, Ajmeriya, an Assistant Sub-Inspector and three constables for allegedly beating him in police custody. Protests followed the news and a riot broke out in the area.Meanwhile during the day, the pharmacy owner also filed an FIR against the cops for trespassing on his property. In addition, two other FIRs were registered against unknown people, one for rioting and another for beating a constable. Among all these complaints, FIRs against the cops attracted more notice, forcing the police personnel to go into hiding.”I had to leave my family in a rush. I am scared,” said Ajmeriya, whose sister and father are also in the Madhya Pradesh police force. “We are not influential. We’re just trying to do our job. If the negative news and lies that are being spread about me reach my home in Morena, my family will be in trouble,” he said, adding that a false campaign has been started against the cops by political groups.”We have nowhere to go. We have tried to contact all senior officials but no one has come forward to help us,” said Ajmeriya nervously, while he repeatedly checked out his surroundings for a possible police party trailing him.Now two weeks after the incident, ironically, Ajmeriya, Haq and five other cops, including the additional SP of Balaghat, have become “fugitives” and “absconders” and accused, wanted by the MP police. On Tuesday, Ajmeriya and Haq travelled all the way to the National Capital Region (NCR) to seek legal advice.”Not even in my worst dreams had I ever imagined that I would be in hiding and running like a criminal,” Haq said. “We have not surrendered because back home, it will be seen as admission of guilt. We are officers of the law.If we are punished for performing our duty, what message will be sent to society?” he rued.In between, the cops tried to diffuse the tension by cracking a few jokes. “They have put charges of attempt to murder, rioting and looting on us. Davai bhi koi lootnay ki cheez hai?” said Haq, before adding, “My grandfather retired as a DSP before he went for Haj.”The duo did not reveal how they reached NCR but said that they have been staying with friends and well-wishers. They added they were not using the same number for fear of being tracked.”We will explore legal options, including anticipatory bail. I have arrested hundreds of people. If I’m put behind the bars with the criminals, I don’t know how will I survive,” Haq said.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Madhya Pradesh government on Wednesday suspended Balaghat Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP), who among other policemen was charged with attempting to murder an RSS worker there.Balaghat ASP Rajesh Sharma, who was booked and charged with section 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC in connection with beating of RSS parcharak Suresh Yadav on September 25 evening, has been suspended, state Home Minister Bhupendra Singh told PTI over phone. He said a special team will leave for Balaghat from Bhopal to oversee the investigation into the incident. Singh had met Yadav on Wednesday, who is undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Jabalpur.Earlier, two police officers attached to Baihar police station in Balaghat were suspended for allegedly beating up Yadav, who was arrested for posting objectionable comments on AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi. The police, after receiving a complaint that Yadav had posted some comments about Owaisi on WhatsApp, brought him to Baihar police station on the evening of September 25.Yadav escaped and hid in the nearby house of Swami Prasad Asati. However, police caught him and brought him back to the station. They booked him under IPC section 295 (a) (outraging religious feeling). And he was allegedly beaten up brutally in police custody.Meanwhile, the RSS has called for a bandh in Balaghat tomorrow to protest the alleged custodial assault on its pracharak.
Bhopal: Naxals allegedly held a ‘kangaroo court’ in Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh where a sarpanch was asked to ensure payment of wage arrears under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
This is after a long time that Naxal activity has come to light in Balaghat district, which is close to Rajandgaon district of Chhattisgarh and Gondia of Maharashtra, both of which have rebel presence.
“Twenty Naxals including six women held an unofficial court in Pandripani jungle near Rashimetta in south Baiher on the night of 4 April,” said former Lanji MLA Kishore Samrite.
The villagers complained to the Naxals that they had not received wages for work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act for several months.
The Naxals told the woman sarpanch’s husband to make sure that payments were made within 15 days. Otherwise the sarpanch should resign, they said.
“We have got inputs that rebels held a meeting, not a kangaroo court, on 4 April,” district superintendent of police Gaurav Tiwari told PTI on Wednesday.
Naxals now a days hold such meetings for 10-15 minutes before fleeing the area, he added, while denying a report in a Hindi daily that Naxals abducted some 15 sarpanchs from south Baiher and held a kangaroo court.
As per the police’s information, Naxals asked Kuwar Singh Dhurve, husband of Navhi village sarpanch Munni Bai, to ensure payment of wages for MNREGA works within 15 days, he said.
Dhurve hadn’t lodged a complaint with police, the SP said, adding the police had taken a serious note of incident.
A person who accompanied Dhurve to Pathri market on 4 April told PTI that the sarpanch’s husband was indeed asked by Naxals to expedite payment to labourers in 15 days or resign.
Balaghat collector Bharat Yadav also said a sarpanch had informed him about Naxals asking to ensure payment of MNREGA dues. “Problem of delay of payments under MNREGA is being faced by some other districts of MP and others states too. There is a shortage of fund. We are making efforts to clear the dues as soon as possible,” Yadav said.