Daulat Ahirwar claims to have been dispossessed of a two-acre plot of land at Rohani village in Damoh district by the son-in-law of Jabera Congress MLA Pratap Singh, and – for the last two years – has been running from pillar to post to get it back.
When nobody helped him, he decided to take the law in his own hands. Today, the 65-year-old sits in prison. But Ahirwar’s story of vigilante justice is better suited to a work of pulp fiction, and starts with Singh’s son-in-law Chhatrapal Singh arriving at the said two acre plot with a battery of labourers, harvesters and tractors on Friday afternoon. Just as they stepped down, bullets started whizzing through the air – catching them by surprise.
If the village strongman and his troops still had any notions about standing their ground, they were dispelled when a few country-made bombs came flying towards them. A labourer cried out; he had been hit by a stray bullet.
Chhatrapal and his men decided to make themselves scarce, leaving their farming equipment behind. After all, lodging a complaint with Damoh district superintendent of police Siddartha Bahuguna seemed like a safer bet.
The police official sprang into action, sending a special reserve force (SAF) team to the spot. But the hail of bullets started again, taking even the gun-wielding jawans by surprise. Sources said the police then set about engaging the farmer in talks – distracting him long enough for one of the constables, Rafiq Khan, to spring a surprise from behind. It was no easy task; it took the police team over six hours to overpower Ahirwar.
MP farmer turns... But a mystery remained – Ahirwar was just one man, while the guns were being fired from four directions. The police only had to look around to see how the lone man had taken on the MLA’s men and the police. The ageing farmer had erected tree stumps on four sides of the field, placing locally manufactured guns on each of them.
The triggers of all the four guns were attached to a rope that led to Daulat, allowing him to fire them from all directions. That wasn’t all – he had even erected a mini-bunker camouflaged with thorny bushes.
Police officers recovered eight locally made guns, a country pistol, three crude bombs and several rounds of bullets from the spot. Daulat was arrested and a case lodged against him under Section 307 of the Arms Act and other sections of the Indian Penal Code, police said, adding that the condition of the injured labourer has stabilised.
Speaking on the incident, Bahuguna said, "Our investigation revealed that Daulat is an expert at making arms. As far as ownership of the land is concerned, a revenue department inquiry will reveal the truth." The Jabera MLA, for his part, admitted that his son-in-law was involved in the case.
Tendu Kheda block sub-divisional magistrate CP Patel said that an inquiry was on to ascertain the ownership of the plot in question. "A revenue team, accompanied by police personnel, has been sent to the area. A report is awaited," he said. Meanwhile, the farmer was produced in a local court and sent to jail.