Bhopal: The death of Pardhi woman, who set herself ablaze due to alleged police harassment, highlights the plight this community has been facing for over a century. On Friday night, a 35- year-old woman Indermal was rushed to Hamidia hospital with 60 percent burn injuries. She died on Sunday. The protests then followed and cops had to resort to cane charge to contain the violence and disburse crowd. This is not the first incident when the police and members of Pardhi community had clashed. Pardhis were declared a criminal tribe by British government in 1871. Since then, the members of community have remained neglected socially and economically.
A similar incident was reported in 2008 when a 16-year-old girl Tinti had committed suicide when police harassed her after receiving complaints from Nehru Nagar residents that she had stolen petrol and diesel from their vehicles. Pardhis are still considered a backward community who dont send their children to schools. In Rajeev Nagar slum located at Nehru Nagar square, only one boy has completed education till class XII. Tasveer, the 19-year-old boy, said that it was not easy for to study.
The policemen detained him when he had to appear in exam the next morning. I had the courage to complete my studies despite all the odds but not all have this courage, he told Free Press. Pardhi Mohalla near Gandhi Nagar police station is home to 100 families. Other areas where Pardhis live include Ahsaan Nagar in Nishatpura where 58 families live along with Banjari in Nayapura where 40 households belong to this community. Geeta Bai, a Pardhi, said that the policemen often arrive at their houses in odd hours and misbehave with them. The ear rings and other jewelleries which we wear, they say is stolen and take them away, she said.
Another Pardhi Shivbaksh said that once a theft occurred in nearby locality. Cops arrived at my home and thrashed me so badly that I lost my eyesight. They pressurised me to withdraw the case of torture. I am physically disabled but still they thrashed me for theft which I never committed. Police often book us in fake cases, he said. A visually impaired Shyamlal said that in September his son purchased certain items to sell them during festivals. But Gautam Nagar police detained him with four of his friends and he is now in jail. They booked him under Arms Act, with no base, he alleged.
Social worker Pallav who works among Pardhis said the government is unclear about their status. In few districts, they are in general category while they are considered SC and ST in other places. When contacted, DIG Santosh Singh said that he is not aware of such allegations made against police. “But still, we’ll inquire into it and take appropriate action if required,”
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