Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted today on a tragic video from Madhya Pradesh, the state where his party lost power to the BJP after a similar rebellion earlier this year. The video of a poor couple assaulted by the police for trying to stop their crops being destroyed by revenue officers has drawn widespread outrage and calls for action.
"Our fight is against this mentality and injustice," Rahul Gandhi tweeted in Hindi with the video from Guna, the stronghold of Jyotiraditya Scindia, his former aide whose switch to the BJP in March led to the Congress collapsing in the state.
हमारी लड़ाई इसी सोच और अन्याय के ख़िलाफ़ है। pic.twitter.com/egGjgY5Awm— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 16, 2020
The couple in the video drank pesticide in a suicide attempt on Tuesday after being forced to watch their crops being destroyed by revenue department officials because the land, owned by the government, was being taken over for a college.
The disturbing visuals show the couple being dragged and beaten by a large number of policemen on a field. Their children are witness to the assault and try to cling to their parents but are roughly pushed away by the cops.
Ram Kumar Ahirwar (38) and Savitri Devi (35) - are reportedly stable in a government-run hospital.
Jyotiraditya Scindia tweeted that the incident was being investigated. "The Guna SP (Superintendent of Police) and Collector have been removed, and inquiry has been sought into the incident. I am confident that action will be taken against all those who are responsible for this heinous act," posted the Rajya Sabha member and former MP from Guna.
The government claims the patch on which the couple grew crops was part of 5.5 acres of public land set aside for a college building. Ram Kumar Ahirwar and Savitri Devi claimed they had been farming there for years.
"We don't know whose land it is. We've been farming on it for long time. When our standing crop has been destroyed, we don't have any option but to kill ourselves," Savitri Devi said.
The district administration says large parts of the land was grabbed by local strongman Gabbu Pardi, who already owns much land and a big house. The Ram Kumar and his wife were allegedly used by Pardi and his men and pushed in the way of the cops to stop the government from reclaiming land he has seized. The couple had allegedly paid Rs 3 lakh to Pardi.
A team from the state revenue department, accompanied by cops, visited the land on Tuesday to evict the couple and start the construction of a boundary wall. The couple resisted, which led to the assault caught on camera.
Ram Ahirwar and his wife have been charged by the police. The cops who assaulted them were given a clean chit.
"We've probed the entire episode and checked footage. Our team had to act only after the couple consumed pesticide and had to be rushed to hospital," S Vishwanath, Guna District Collector, said, adding, "Had the team not acted, the couple could have died and more cases could have taken place".
Mr Vishwanath has since been removed.