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CBI files charge sheet against Bhopal cops over Pardhi woman's death after harassment

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BHOPAL: Three years after Indar alias Indarmal Bai, a member of de-notified Pardhi tribe, died after setting herself ablaze in Bhopal, the Central Bureau of Investigation has filed a charge sheet against two policemen of the Gandhi Nagar police station.

Charges under section 306 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for abetment of suicide and section 34 for common criminal intention has been filed against the two cops – assistant sub-inspector Rameshwar Yadav and constable Gajraj.

Also, departmental inquiry has been recommended against the third policeman Sandeep Shakya for the lack of substantial evidence against him. A fourth cop – Dheeraj – had been named in the case, but the CBI could not find anyone of this name posted at the Gandhi Nagar police station.

The woman, a waste-picker, had allegedly killed herself to escape the constant harassment by the cops who had been demanding Rs 20,000 from her and issuing threats of implicating her in false cases if she failed to do so. The suicide attempt allegedly happened in presence of the cops on November 17, 2017, but they did nothing to prevent it or help the victim, the witnesses had said.

Indramal Bai succumbed to her burn injuries three days later. Just before the suicide, Indramal and other members of the de-notified tribe from the settlement had approached the district collector demanding protection from the cops, but the matter was not taken up.

After an initial inquiry by the police gave a clean chit to the cops, the matter was taken to MP High Court, which directed a CBI probe into the case in October 2019 after finding gaps in the police investigation. The case was taken over by the CBI in April this year and the charge sheet was filed recently.

Activists who supported the members of Indramal's family to fight for justice have said that the “the acknowledgment of the crime and human rights violations faced by Indramal is as much a source of hope for Indramal’s children, aged mother and family as it is for the Pardhi community to which Indramal belonged.”

Cases of police excesses against, Pardhis, a tribe have often been reported. About a decade ago, a teenage girl in another poor settlement of Bhopal had killed self after being detained by the police on charges of theft.