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A Dalit couple in Madhya Pradesh's Guna district attempted suicide by drinking pesticide on Tuesday, July 14, after they were forced to watch as their crops were bulldozed by revenue department officials.
In disturbing visuals that have emerged, the couple can be seen being assaulted by police officers and dragged into an ambulance.
The couple - Ram Kumar Ahirwar (38) and Savitri Devi (35) - are now in a government-run hospital and in stable condition.
The government said that 20 bighas (around 5.5 acres) of public land had been set aside in 2018 for building a college. Ram Kumar Ahirwar and Savitri Devi, who claim they had been farming there for years, had allegedly encroached the land.
"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 other option, but to kill ourselves," NDTV quoted Savitri Devi as saying.
"Who will pay it, the government?" she asked. The couple is now in debt of Rs three lakh.
On July 14, the land was visited by a team from the state revenue department, accompanied by cops, who attempted to evict the couple and prepare for the construction of a boundary wall.
The couple resisted and were forced to watch as their crops were devastated. They consequently drank pesticide to kill themselves.
The cops went on to brutally assault them. In the visuals, Savitri Devi clinging to her husband while police officers thrash them with lathis.
Guna collector gave a clean chit to police - Our team had to act only after the couple consumed pesticide and had to be rushed to hospital, Had the team not acted, the couple could have died and more such cases could have taken place. @ndtv @ndtvindia#Guna @GargiRawat pic.twitter.com/8v0R1d0H2T— Anurag Dwary (@Anurag_Dwary) July 15, 2020
When the couple's kids tried to intervene and save their parents, the police verbally abused them and pushed them aside.
While Ram Ahirwar and his wife have been charged by the police, cops who assaulted them have been 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".
A high-level inquiry has now been ordered, and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has since ordered the removal of the District Collector and the Superintendent of Police.
According to the Guna district administration, around 45 bighas (around 12.5 acres) had been grabbed by a local gangster. He allegedly used Ram Ahirwar and his debt-burdened family as a front so that the government does not reclaim their land.
Reportedly, the gangster was paid Rs three lakh by Ram Ahirwar for the land.
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