MP: pellet guns allegedly used against tribals, CM promises action

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BHOPAL, July 3 (AGENCIES): Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath said Saturday that an inquiry by a magistrate has been ordered into alleged use of pellet guns against tribals in Burhanpur district, and no guilty person will be spared.

Four tribal farmers were allegedly injured in the incident on July 9. Senior Congress leaders Digvijay Singh and Jyotiradiya Scindia raised the issue Saturday. A forest department team opened fire in self-defence at Siwal village when villagers hurled stones at them, according to the district police.

Singh and Scindia raised the issue after party MLA Hiralal Alawa wrote to Nath, seeking action against officials.

“The development of tribals and protection of their rights are priority of the Congress government under Kamal Nath’s leadership. The incident is against the declared policy of the current government,” Digvijay Singh tweeted.

“This is condemnable and government should take immediate action against the guilty officers,” Singh said, tagging Alawa’s letter with his tweets. Immediately thereafter, Scindia too commented on the issue through Twitter.

“Progress and welfare of the tribal population is the priority of the MP Government. The unfortunate incident in Burhanpur is condemnable.

“I request the chief minister to investigate the case in a transparent and unbiased manner and take strict action against the guilty officers,” he tweeted. Nath responded through Twitter in the evening.

“Magisterial inquiry has been ordered on the next day of the incident of firing during the clashes between forest team and villagers in Badnapur forest area of Nepanagar.

“There will be a fair investigation of the incident, no guilty will be spared,” he said. Burhanpur Superintendent of Police Ajay Singh told agencies that the incident took place Tuesday night when a team of forest officials reached Siwal for plantation on forest land.

“Villagers claimed that the land belonged to them and started hurling stones, forcing them (forest officials) to use twelve-bore guns in self-defence,” the police officer said. Some persons sustained injuries due to pellets and were admitted to hospital, the SP added.

According to Alawa, MLA from Kukshi, at least four farmers were injured in the incident. “The victims had produced documents of tribal rights as old as (from) 1988-89, but the forest officials continued to terrorise the tribals,” he alleged. The victims had claimed the land under the Forest Rights Act, he said.

The forest department could have filed an appeal before the Gram Sabha (local village body) but “instead of taking the legal recourse the forest team attempted to dislodge them by force”, the MLA alleged.   SP Ajay Singh said villagers and forest officials have filed complaints against each other, and “cross-FIRs” (first information reports) have been registered. “Inquiry will be conducted by the Additional District Magistrate. Further probe is underway,” he said.

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