Bhopal: The family of a 65-year-old tribal in a village in Madhya Pradesh has claimed that he was beaten to death by some policemen outside a shop on Friday where he was waiting to buy groceries amid a nationwide lockdown to fight the spread of COVID-19. The district administration, however, claims that he died of a heart attack.
Tigu Budhya, a shopkeeper and a native of Dhar town, located in western part of the state, had gone to a shop in a nearby village - Gujari - on Friday morning with his son-in law, Sanjay Meda, to buy some groceries for his own shop.
"Some policemen came in four or five vehicles and started beating us with batons without provocation. We ran in different directions. I received injuries on my legs," Sanjay recalled.
The son of Tigoo Adivasi, a resident of Mandleshwar in Khargone district, said his father had gone to Gujari village under Dhamnod police station in Dhar district, three to four kilometres away, to buy some essential items of daily need on Saturday morning.
“The eyewitnesses told me that my father was at a shop about 7am when police personnel in three to four vehicles reached there and beat him up with canes while accusing him of violating lockdown restrictions. He died on the spot,” Raju Adivasi said.
The local legislator Panchilal Meda also blamed the police for the tribal man’s death. “The body of the deceased bore signs of canes which suggest that he was beaten up by police and it caused his death. Strict action should be taken against guilty police personnel,” Meda said.
Aditya Pratap Singh, Dhar district’s superintendent of police, admitted that a police team was there at the village market but said the man didn’t die because of any action taken by police.
“There was a vegetable market in the morning when a sub-divisional officer of police (SDoP) and town inspector of police reached there with their team to make people follow the norms of social distancing,” Singh said.
“When the team reached there, people who were there started running away on seeing the police vehicles. While the police team was returning it got information that a man was lying unconscious. The police personnel took him to a hospital where he died,” he said.
“It is only after the inquiry that the cause of death can be established. The post-mortem is being conducted by a panel of three doctors to allay any apprehension in the mind of the family members about the cause of death.”
Divya Patel, sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), said the tribal man’s family has been given immediate financial assistance of Rs 20,000. “Since the deceased belonged to Mandleshwar we are trying to contact the administration over there to know if he had any below poverty line (BPL) card so that more assistance could be given to the family,” Patel said.
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