Gurugram: A family tragedy forced 21-year-old Anuj Kumar to leave his village in Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh and move to Gurgaon in search of a better paying job. Yet, tragedy seemingly followed him.
Six months ago, Kumar’s father, the only bread winner, died after several years of ill health. So the young Dalit man moved to the city in July hoping to earn more to support his family. On 4 August, he was brought back home in an ambulance, wrapped in a shroud, his body marked with injuries all over. In less than a year, the family has lost two members, leaving just a widowed mother, Sunita Devi (48) and her young son Anubodh (19).
Kumar was killed last Monday, in what the Gurugram Police says is a case of ‘mistaken identity’.
According to the FIR, a copy of which is with ThePrint, Kumar, his brother-in-law Sanjay and an acquaintance of theirs, Chandan Singh, were allegedly kidnapped Monday by a group of men from outside ILD Greens office gate in Sector 37C. Kumar and Sanjay, who were looking for a job, had gone there to meet Singh. After being kidnapped, they were taken to the Heritage Badminton Academy, where they were allegedly assaulted continuously for over three hours until Kumar succumbed to his injuries, the FIR stated.
“He went to earn more money … didn’t think he would be back so soon in kafan (shroud),” Devi told ThePrint.
Anubodh said his mother is yet to come to terms with his brother’s death. “I will never go to the city to work leaving here. I will rather beg than end up dead [and] leave my mother alone.”
Case of mistaken identity?
According to the Gurugram Police’s public relations officer Subhash Boken, the accused had mistaken Kumar and Sanjay for the men who had purportedly harassed a woman known to the accused. “Two of the accused have been arrested and charged for kidnapping and murder,” Boken said.
The two arrested are Manjeet, the manager of the badminton academy, and Binda Prasad, a staffer at the academy who cleaned the premises and made tea.
Based on a complaint by Sanjay, the FIR was lodged against Manjeet, two other men identified as Manish and Puneet, and several unnamed accused.
According to Sanjay’s FIR, two men got down from a black Verna around 1:30pm and accused Kumar and Sanjay of misbehaving with a woman, who was sitting in the car at the time.
Though Kumar and Sanjay repeatedly denied the allegation, they were taken to the badminton academy where three to four others allegedly beat them up. They allegedly later came back for Singh, and brought him to the badminton academy too. By the time the police arrived, Kumar had died from his injuries. He was found in a sitting position, with his back against the wall and his neck broken. An injured Sanjay was next to him, the FIR stated.
“We are trying to trace the others involved. The girl was harassed by some men when she would come to the academy. She complained to her father, who then told people in the academy. A coach’s involvement has come to our notice as well, but it is yet to be confirmed,” a senior police officer told ThePrint.
However, Sanjay refutes this being a case of ‘mistaken identity’.
“This is completely false. Cops can check CCTV footage. We had gone to meet Chandan for work and were just standing there … these men came from nowhere and took us. They were drunk and hurling abuses, and said these kinds of ‘Biharis’, who come looking for wages here, should be beaten up. Their aggression and hatred was quite visible,” alleged Sanjay.
Singh, a plumber at ILD Greens, also made similar claims. “While they were beating us, one 15-16-year-old girl came by … the men asked: ‘Are these the ones?’ She said yes once, quietly, and went away … and they kept beating us. The girl angle has been built up to shield their gruesomeness,” Singh told ThePrint.
‘We were electrocuted, caned’
According to both Sanjay and Chandan, the accused had tied up the hands and legs of all three of them. While someone sat on their chests, the others kept hitting them with sticks.
“They hit on our back, hands, legs everywhere. They hit our soles with canes, turned us, and hit our back, thighs … they didn’t even spare my handicapped hand,” Sanjay told ThePrint, showing his injuries and a swelling on his head. Sanjay had lost several fingers three months ago in a factory accident.
Singh, meanwhile, had stitches on his leg, and a head injury.
Sanjay said he was alive because he had managed to hide in a washroom. The accused, though, had found him, pulled him out and assaulted him again, by which time Kumar was nearly dead, the 32-year-old claimed.
“They gave Anuj electric shock on his feet, and they poured water on him. When they realised he died, all of them ran away from the spot,” he alleged.
The duo further alleged that while they were getting beaten up, no one helped them even though some members of the public had gathered there. “After a while, some people asked the men to stop hitting us, saying we will die, but they didn’t,” Singh claimed.
‘Will rather beg than end up dead’
Back in Jaunpur, the family cannot fathom how Kumar, who they considered a simple, quiet boy, was killed mercilessly.
“Sunita hasn’t eaten since days now … keeps sitting at the doorstep staring at the road,” said Yogendra Kumar, Kumar’s maternal uncle.
In Sanjay’s house in gali no 8 of Kadipur industrial area, his wife Raoti is trying to earn a living by cutting elastic cables. She wonders who will hire her handicapped and now limping husband and worries about affording their monthly expenses, which come up to a minimum Rs 8,000 a month.
In the locality where the Dalit families live, fear has taken over. Sher Singh, a meat vendor, said, “No one wants to talk about this or help them … we are scared, those gundas are locals, they are powerful, might kill us.”
Gurugram Police said investigation is on, and there was no need for the villagers to worry. “We will ensure they are safe,” the senior police officer quoted above said.
(Edited by Manasa Mohan)