Men from ‘criminal’ villages of Madhya Pradesh on the run from cops
It’s an undeclared state of war between tribals and police in Jamanda and Bhutia villages, under Tanda police station in Dhar district, where every other male member is a criminal, according to the police.bhopal Updated: Mar 27, 2017 07:53 IST
It’s an undeclared state of war between tribals and police in Jamanda and Bhutia villages, under Tanda police station in Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh, where every other male member is a criminal according to the police.
Tagged as ‘criminal’ villages, these men from are now being hunted by the police and shunned by other parts of the society. Most have fled the villages or have gone into hiding.
Situated some 340 km west of Bhopal, the villages came into focus when the police carried out a raid on January 25 — the biggest in recent times — to nab the absconding criminals. Though no one was arrested, cops seized several motorcycles and goods suspecting them to be stolen.
Though raids are not new in these villages, this time the villagers accused cops of raping four women, a charge which the police have denied. But the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken cognisance and the police are also holding a separate inquiry.
Local politicians too jumped in with Congress taking up the tribals cause and BJP that of the police. To worsen an already volatile situation, the murder of a villager from Bhutia by villagers from nearby Indala last week led to violence in which 13 huts were burnt in Indala, allegedly by 18 men from Bhutia.
Stung by the rape allegations, the police have upped their ante and vigilance in the area has increased leading to something akin to a state of siege.
Local cops do not deny keeping tabs on villagers. “We have to get information about all those who are absconding and also nab those responsible for the recent arson incident as all the 18 accused are absconding,” says Tanda police station incharge SI Vijay Vaskele.
Chiniya Hemraj, a tribal farmer, said, “The police are catching hold of any male from the villages, whether they have a criminal record or not and taking them to the police station for questioning. We are scared and we are now sending our womenfolk for purchasing necessities in the towns.”
Bhutia sarpanch Bhur Singh Ajnare does not deny that some of the villagers have a criminal background. “But why target everyone,” he asks.
“People from these villages have earned a bad name in the area and we keep our interaction to a minimum with them. We avoid going to these villages as it is dangerous going there, especially after dark,” says Pappu Sharma, a local journalist.
The cops too have a similar line. “I would say that at least 50% of adults in these villages have criminal background and this has been going on for decades. The villagers have cases against them in neighbouring states,” says Dhar SP Birendra Singh. “The population of these villages is around 500 each but at present there are 175 pending permanent warrants and 143 wanted criminals who have been charged ...” he added.
Though the tag of a ‘criminal’ villages hangs like an albatross, it appears crime has not paid as most of the tribal Bhils live in abject poverty and the organs of the state appear to have abandoned them.
There is no electricity and drinking water becomes scarce as hand pumps dry up in summer. There is very little irrigation and most villagers migrate to Gujarat for work.