Dalit Man Set Ablaze, Dies in MP; Cong-BJP Trade Barbs

A 24-year old Dalit man, who was set on fire in Madhya Pradesh's Sagar city last week, died at a hospital in New Delhi on Thursday, 23 January, police said.

The ruling Congress and the opposition BJP hit out at each other following the incident.

While the BJP said the police did not act upon the victim's complaints made before the incident because of the state government's “appeasement policy,” the Congress accused the saffron party of trying to vitiate the atmosphere by speaking “lies.”

Dhanprasad Ahirwar, a resident of Motinagar area in Sagar, was set ablaze on 14 January by four of his neighbours who were forcing him to take back a police complaint that he filed after a dispute with them, police said.

Ahirwar, who sustained around 70 percent burns, was initially treated in Sagar and then shifted to a hospital in the state capital Bhopal.

He was later taken in an air ambulance to a hospital in Delhi where he died on Thursday, police said.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath expressed grief over the death of Ahirwar and assured all assistance to his family.

All the accused, Chhuttu, Ajju Pathan, Kallu and Irfan, have been arrested, Sagar’s Superintendent of Police Amit Sanghi told PTI.

“Received the news of demise of Dhanprasad Ahirwar, a resident of Sagar, during treatment in Delhi. My condolences to the family.... Instructions have been issued for all possible help to the family,” Nath tweeted.

However, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Gopal Bhargava accused the Sagar district administration of negligence and said Ahirwar could have been saved if police had acted “in time.”

“I met the victim and his family at a hospital in Bhopal. They had gone to police to seek help. The victim's life could have been saved, if police had acted in time. A poor Dalit family has lost its son due to the apathy of the administration and government,” the BJP leader said.

State BJP chief Rakesh Singh last week said Ahirwar had approached police thrice before the incident, fearing his life was in danger but he got “no help” from the authorities.

Singh had alleged that the police did not act upon Ahirwar’s apprehensions because of the Congress-led government’s “vote-bank politics and policy of appeasement.”

On the other hand, the Congress accused the BJP of politicising a sensitive issue.

“The administration has taken timely action and arrested all the accused. The victim was air-lifted to Delhi for better treatment on the chief minister's directives. Now, the BJP is trying to vitiate the atmosphere by speaking lies,” state Congress spokesman Narendra Saluja said.

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