By Iram Siddique

A 45-year-old Dalit construction worker’s hand was hacked off with a sword in Dolmou village of Madhya Pradesh’s Rewa district on Saturday, allegedly by a man who owed him money for work, police said.

The accused, Ganesh Mishra, has been arrested and charged with attempted murder and provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The victim is admitted in hospital in Rewa, and the limb has been reattached to his body. It is not immediately clear if it can be used again.

Around 11.30 am on Saturday, the victim, Ashok Saket, had an argument with Ganesh over a payment dispute at the latter’s house in the village, some 60 km from the Rewa district headquarters.

Ashok’s brother Shivakumar Saket said Ashok had erected some pillars and beams at the house for which he was owed around Rs 15,000. Of this, Ganesh had paid him only around Rs 6,000, Shivakumar said.

According to Shivakumar, Ganesh rang Ashok around 11 am and asked him to come and take his money. Ashok went immediately, taking along a co-worker, Satyendra Saket.

“They met Ganesh Mishra in his house, where they measured the work done, but a heated argument broke out over the area constructed and the amount due. Mishra asked my brother to wait while he got the money, but instead returned with a sword which he swung at my brother’s neck. My brother raised his left hand to protect himself, and the sword chopped it off entirely,” Shivakumar said.

Satyendra and Ashok managed to flee on their motorcycle. The family met them midway, and took them to the police station in a hired vehicle. From there, they went to a primary healthcare centre, and were subsequently referred to Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Rewa city.

Rewa SP Naveen Bhasin told The Indian Express, “Soon after I was informed by SDOP P S Paraste, we constituted four teams, one of which was sent to the scene of the crime, and the others after the perpetrators.”

At the spot, the team led by SDOP Paraste began searching for the severed limb, with an ambulance standing by to rush it to hospital. “The accused Ganesh Mishra was living in a house he was getting built amidst his fields. The argument broke out over how the work done on the pillar and beam should be measured. He (Mishra) kept swords and lathis in the house,” Paraste said.

The severed arm was found in a field of black gram. “While Ganesh Mishra packed, took some money, and escaped on his motorcycle, two of his brothers picked up Ashok’s arm and the sword, and threw them in the fields,” Paraste said.

By then, police had reached members of Ganesh’s family, including his brother Ratnesh Mishra and cousin Krishna Kumar Mishra, who had helped him to clean up the blood, get rid of his bloodstained clothes, and dispose of Ashok’s severed arm.

Ganesh himself was nabbed by the end of the day, police tracking him down based on information provided by his father, Raghuvendra Mishra, who works with the local district administration, and is preparing to contest the upcoming panchayat elections.

Ganesh, Ratnesh, and Krishna have been booked under IPC Sections 307 (attempt to murder) and 201 (causing disappearence of evidence of offence), the Arms Act, and the SC/ST Act.

Doctors at Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital performed an over-two-hour surgery to reattach Ashok’s arm. Chief Medical Health Officer Dr Atul Singh said, “The success of such surgery depends on how soon and in what condition the severed organ was brought in, and whether the body accepts it after the surgery… We immediately cleaned it and began the surgery. Considerable blood was lost, but the surgery was successful. We will be able to say whether the arm is working after four-odd days.”

This story first appeared on indianexpress.com