Bhanwarlal Chattar Jain (65), the eldest son of Ratlam district’s oldest sarpanch Pistabai Chattar Jain (86), was allegedly lynched by a BJP leader in a village of District Neemuch, Madhya Pradesh. The old man was killed on the suspicion of being a Muslim. Ironically, the victim — reportedly a mentally unstable man — was another BJP leader’s brother.
The family of the sarpanch had gone to Chittorgarh to worship Bheruji on 15 May. The next day, Bhanwarlal went missing after the pilgrimage. On 19 May, his body was found on Rampura road, about 500 m from the police station in Manasa (Neemuch).
A video of beating Dinesh Kushwaha beating Bhanwarlal surfaced soon and went viral. The police in Neemuch have arrested the suspect who came out of hiding when the local civic body sent a bulldozer to demolish his house in Manasa.
Reacting to the news of the crime, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra said he had talked to the family of the victim, but the younger brother of the deceased has denied having met with the home minister.
Once the video of the incident went viral, the civic body staff led a team and reached the house of the suspect with a JCB bulldozer. The suspect was given an ultimatum to surrender by evening.
The civic administration is now busy examining the documents of the house in the process of breaking the house. So far, the municipality has learnt that the house is registered in the name of Kushwaha’s brother, which delayed the proceedings. As soon as Dinesh Kushwaha’s share of the house is confirmed, the administration will start its proceedings, a source said.
Suspect Dinesh Kushwaha is seen beating Bhanwarlal badly in the video and asking him to show his Aadhaar card. As Dinesh asked for the name and address, the mentally unstable victim uttered “Mohammad” for some reason. Dinesh Kushwaha appeared shocked on hearing the name.
The BJP leader then asked for the Aadhaar card and slapped Bhanwarlal continuously.
Police have registered an FIR against the office-bearer in BJP Yuva Morcha and the city unit. His wife has been a BJP councillor from ward number 3 in the Manasa Municipal Council.
The Sarpanch of Sirsa (Ratlam) Pistabai had three sons — Bhanwarlal, Ashok and Rajesh Chattar. Ashok Chattar is the president of the Tulavati Association in Mandi while Rajesh is active in social service and is a sarpanch representative. The eldest son Bhanwarlal was mentally unstable and never married.
After the family of Sarpanch Pistabai went to perform Bheru Puja at the Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan on Purnima, on the second day on 16 May at 12 noon, Bhanwarlal got down from the fort without informing the family members who later searched a lot, but when they could not find them, they lodged a missing complaint at the Chittorgarh Kotwali police station.
Everyone thought that Bhanwarlal must have come to Javra alone by bus, so they started searching there too, but on 19 May in the afternoon. Bhanwarlal’s body was found on Rampura Road in Manasa.
The police kept the corpse in a hospital and made the photo go viral on social media to identify the dead man. Getting the information in Sarsi, Bhanwarlal’s younger brothers Ashok and Rajesh reached Manasa and identified the dead body. After identification, the dead body was brought to the village after a postmortem last morning and last rites were performed, sources in Madhya Pradesh Police said.
The video, it is now known, did not go viral for its content alone. Dinesh Kushwaha had himself posted it in one of the Swachh Bharat groups. He found the address of Bhanwarlal through another group.
Taking suo motu cognisance of the incident on the basis of this video, the police started looking for the husband of the BJP councillor and filed an FIR after the Manasa police station procrastinated. On the complaint of the Jain community and relatives, Dinesh Kushwaha was booked under Sections 302 and 304.
Bhanwarlal’s brother Rajesh Chattar said that Bhanwarlal would not have been able to tell anything because he was mentally unstable. “Dinesh beat him badly which allegedly caused the death. There were also marks of assault on the body at the time of post-mortem. The assailant took out Rs 200 from Bhanwarlal’s trouser pockets.
Chattar said, “When I inquired after seeing injuries on the leg during the autopsy in Manasa, I was forcibly evicted. The authorities were not ready to tell anything.”
“It is certain that his death was due to beating,” Chattar said.
Hundreds of people, including Chattar, reached the Manasa police station to file a report against Dinesh Kushwaha. Rajesh said that if the suspect feared something, he should have taken him Bhanwarlal to the police.
The bus conductor, who made Bhanwarlal sit in the Javra bus in Nimbaheda, called Chattar over the phone. Rajesh reached up to the Javra bus stand and got into a bus in Manasa for Village Sarsi nearby. He said even if Bhanwarlal was unable to share his destination with the conductor, the latter must have presumed he would go to Sarsi. Bhanwarlal wandered in Manasa even as he could not speak.
State Congress President and former Chief Minister Kamal Nath tweeted to say, “What is happening in Madhya Pradesh?” Kamal Nath said that the incidents of lynching of tribals in Seoni, Guna, Mhow, Mandla and now the lynching of an elderly man Bhanwarlal Jain in Manasa of District Neemuch in the state!
Kamal Nath said that like in the case of Seoni, the assailant is affiliated with the BJP. “Where is the law and order of the state? For how long will people continue to be killed like this? Why are the spirits of criminals so high? The focus of the government is only on event management?”
Former Chief Minister Digvijay Singh retweeted a tweet on the matter, saying he had come to know that a case had been registered against Dinesh Kushwaha of BJP under Section 302. Singh wondered whether the suspect would be arrested.
Home Minister Mishra said that Singh will be supported by those who speak against Hinduism or Hindu gods and goddesses. “Have you ever seen that he has supported someone who speaks against some other religion or has himself spoken against any other religion? He can’t speak about any other religion,” the state home minister said.
Mishra said that supporting Assistant Professor Rattan Lal of Delhi University was a case in point. Mishra said that a case has been registered against the suspect in the Neemuch incident under Sections 302 and 304 of IPC.