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Dalit youth found hanging in UP, family alleges murder but police suspect suicide

18-year-old Jalaun resident Pawan Kumar left home after dinner Monday night but never returned. Family says an upper caste man killed him after an argument rooted in caste identity.

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New Delhi: A Dalit youth was found hanging in a cow shelter Tuesday in Mohammdabad village of Uttar Pradesh’s Jalaun district. The youth’s family has alleged that he was murdered, but the police say the death appears to be a case of suicide.

The 18-year-old, Pawan Kumar, had left home after dinner Monday night but never returned.

His family has accused an upper caste man, with whom Pawan allegedly had an argument Monday afternoon, of killing him and then staging it to look like a suicide. They have also said that no suicide note has been found.

In light of the family’s allegations, police say an inquiry has been launched.

Speaking to ThePrint, Superintendent of Police (Jalaun) Ravi Kumar said: “The post-mortem report terms the cause of death ante-mortem hanging. I have asked the officers concerned to initiate an inquiry.”

No FIR has been lodged on the family’s allegations of murder. A senior police officer said: “Prima facie, it appears to be a case of suicide. Investigation is on.”

‘Result of an argument’

According to Pawan’s elder brother Arun, “around 4.30 pm (Monday), an argument broke out between Pawan and the upper caste man”.

“My brother was on his way home from a shop when the man stopped him and started abusing him. He also charged at him physically,” he added. “Pawan asked the man why he was obstructing his way. Local residents of the village gathered and stopped the argument. I also reached the spot and rescued my brother.”

The family said the upper caste man abused Pawan and used casteist slur. “He asked Pawan ‘how he could walk confidently, without being meek, with such puffed-up demeanour’,” Arun added.

He further accused the police of inaction. “Why will my brother have dinner with us, disappear for the entire night and then hang himself in a gaushala? The upper caste man had threatened to kill him saying he had forgotten his aukaat (status),” Arun alleged.

According to the family, when Pawan’s mother visited the upper caste man’s house after the argument to confront him, he allegedly told them he would kill the boy.

“Around 9 pm Monday, when Pawan went out after having dinner, the upper caste man along with three-four of his associates approached him and took him away on a motorcycle. In the morning around 6 am, we came to know that they had killed Pawan and staged it like a suicide,” Pawan’s mother Shakuntala has been quoted as saying in the complaint filed at the local police station, a copy of which is with ThePrint. The family has also said there were bruises on Pawan’s body.

(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)

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