Madhya Pradesh: Two Arrested for Setting Tribal Woman Ablaze for Resisting Encroachment

The victim's family had reportedly told the police about threats received, but were not provided with security.

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New Delhi: A tribal woman was reportedly set on fire in Madhya Pradesh’s Guna on Saturday (July 2) for resisting attempts by the group accused to encroach upon her family’s land. Rampyari Bai is currently battling for her life in Hamidia Hospital, Bhopal.

Rampyari Bai and her family belong to the Saharia tribe, which has been classified as a particularly vulnerable tribal group. They live in Dhanoria village under Bamori police station limits, over 200 km from Bhopal.

Guna Superintendent of Police Pankaj Shrivastava told PTI that two of the accused have been arrested so far. They have denied the allegations and claimed that the woman immolated herself.

According to The Hindu, Rampyari Bai’s family alleged that they sought police protection in the past because of threats from the accused, but were not provided with security.

Arjun Saharia, Rampyari Bai’s husband, has said that he saw three fellow villagers — Pratap, Hanumat, Shyam Kirar — fleeing the spot in a tractor along with their family members. Rampyari Bai later told the police that six people, including the three mentioned by her husband, someone named Pandit and two women, had poured diesel on her and set her on fire before escaping.

A video of the incident went viral on social media platforms, wherein the charred woman was seen crying in pain, with smoke all around her. It is unclear who has shot this video.

The six bigha land that the accused were trying to encroach upon was reportedly allotted to Rampyari Bai’s family under a chief minister’s welfare scheme launched by the former Digvijaya Singh government. According to Arjun Saharia, the local administration had also settled a dispute pertaining to the land in the family’s favour in May, The Hindu reported.

He added that he had been attacked by the same group in the past and an FIR had been filed, but the police had not taken any action.

The opposition Congress has accused the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government of having a “hostile attitude” towards tribals. “The woman’s husband says that he had given an application to the police on June 23 asking for security as he faced threats, but was not given security cover. I want to ask Shivraj ji why his government has such a hostile attitude towards the tribal community? When will the tribal community in the State be safe?” former chief minister Kamal Nath said in a tweet.

The Trinamool Congress too asked the BJP how long such brutalities will continue for.