A woman belonging to scheduled caste allegedly committed suicide by setting herself on fire after a brawl with the sons of an upper-caste farmer over a land dispute in Madhya Pradesh's Satna district.
Police identified the woman as 45-year-old Radha Ahirwar, a resident of Ginjara village.
"A case of abetment of suicide under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code has been registered against the farmer's three sons. A case has been lodged against them under the provisions of the Prevention of Atrocities of the SC/ST Act, but they are yet to be arrested," said Satna Police Superintendent Riyaz Iqbal.
The brawl had broken out in the presence of a woman official who was conducting a survey of government land to build houses for economically weaker sections under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, a central scheme aimed at providing affordable housing to the poor. She had gone to the spot to take stock of a government plot and its adjoining private land following complaints of improper demarcation for fencing between the two properties.
"Suddenly, a brawl broke out between the two sides and the three men misbehaved with Radha Ahirwar in the woman official's presence. Angered by this, she rushed to her house - located about 50 metres away - and set herself ablaze. We have recovered the empty kerosene bottle from the vicinity of her house," said Riyaz Iqbal.
The woman's relatives had initially alleged that the three accused, who owns the land near the Dalit family's plot, had set her ablaze.
Although the government official had used the state police's Dial 110 emergency response service to report the brawl between the woman and the farmer's sons, it took the police nearly 16 hours to reach the spot. The Satna Superintendent of Police admitted that it was odd, given that the Nagod station is located just four kilometres away from the village.
"We've sought a report on the delay in police action, and the officers responsible will face action," said Riyaz Iqbal.
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