Madhya Pradesh

Chambal, once the land of dacoits, stares at illegal arms ahead of MP polls

Chambal, once the land of dacoits, in Madhya Pradesh stares at illegal arms and their supply ahead of the November 17 state assembly elections, according to people familiar with the matter. According to locals, caste vote consolidation is another major issue in the Chambal region ahead of the assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh. (File Photo) The presence of illegal weapons and their supply through porous Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan borders is still a concern in the region, even though several prominent dacoits, such as Nirbhay Gurjar, Rajjan Gurjar, Jagjeevan Parihar, Ramlakhan Gadariya and Babli Kol, were killed here in the past two decades or more. “We have sought deployment of additional forces in the region to prevent any untoward incident,” said Bhind drict collector Sanjeev Shrivastava, adding that there would be webcasting of all booths in the two assembly constituencies in the region- Lahar and Ater. He said 450 micro-observers have been deployed in the drict and all of them were central government employees. As far as preventive action is concerned, 175 persons have externed from the drict, 16 persons booked under stringent National Security Act (NSA) and 27,000 persons having criminal record have been asked to submit a bond taking oath not to engage in any unlawful activities. Around 23,000 arms have been deposited in the police stations in Bhind drict having more than 700 critical polling booths, as per official information. A senior police official said that for every legal arm in the region there are at least two to three illegal arms, if not more. “We are keeping a watch and trying to catch criminals with illegal arms,” said the official. As Chambal region shares a border with Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, it was “very difficult” to effectively check smuggling of arms from these states on such a long border, said the police officer. In 2018 elections, more than a dozen cases of violence were reported from the region. Ahead of this election, in Bhind, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker sustained injuries in a firing anti-social elements at Jetpura village in Gohad assembly constituency. A violent clash took place between two sides at a village in Ater constituency in which a BJP worker and his uncle sustained injuries. A firing took place at a booth in Bhind city resulting in injuries to a voter identified as Pradeep Bhadauria. There were some incidents of violence and clash reported from Morena too, officials said. Political observer from the region Jayant Singh Tomar said, “There is always a surcharged atmosphere during elections in Gwalior-Chambal region. Illegal weapons play a role in this violence. Being on border areas also pose a challenge for the adminration to check criminal activities during the elections.” Caste vote consolidation According to locals, caste vote consolidation is another major issue in the region ahead of the assembly polls. “Dumping” is the code word used for consolidation of a particular caste from a village holding a caste panchayat of seniors, who take oath to ensure that all in the village vote for a particular candidate. Once support of a big village is received, the message of the support for the candidate is spread to other villages for caste vote consolidation. “It is a systematic way of consolidating caste votes in favour of one candidate to prevent division of votes. An important aspect of the practice is that even votes from other castes, who are dependent on dominant caste for their exence, are polled for the candidate for whose favour the panchayat has decided,” said Mahesh Mishra, a local in Bhind. Mishra said this practice had been there in Chambal for decades and late Rai Singh Bhadauria, fondly called Baba in Mehgaon in Bhind drict, won as a rebel Congress candidate in 1980s after being denied party ticket due to dumping. “Many candidates have repeatedly won in the region due to strong caste backing,” he said. “Exciting news! Hindustan Times is now on WhatsApp Channels Subscribe today clicking the link and stay updated with the latest news!” Click here! ABOUT THE AUTHOR Ranjan Srivastava leads HT’s coverage from Bhopal. He has spent more than two decades in journalism in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, covering political and other affairs. For the past 16 years, he has been working in Madhya Pradesh. …view detail

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