Fearing arrest, many flee UP village where Dalit was set afire
Raghavpurwa village in Barabanki district, where a 28-year-old Dalit man was beaten up and set afire on suspicion of being a thief five days ago, wore a deserted look on Wednesday as many have fled fearing arrest. Till date, five persons have been arrested — main accused Shravan Yadav (25), and his parents, 65-year-old man Deshraj Yadav and 60-year-old Diljani Yadav — for the murder of the Dalit youth, Sujeet Gautam, who succumbed to burn injuries on Monday. The two others arrested include their neighbours Umesh Yadav and Chhotu Yadav.
Though residents of Raghavpurwa, a Yadav-dominated village of around 600 people, deny any kind of harassment by the police, they fear that more arrests are likely to be made since the FIR filed in connection with the incident has several “unidentified” persons.
According to the Station House Officer (SHO) of Dewa Police Station, Pramod Kumar Singh, they received the information around 6 am on July 18 from the villagers that “a thief” was beaten up and set on fire, almost four hours after the incident. “Even though the incident took place around 2 am, we were given information about it only after 6 am. When we reached the spot, we found seriously injured Sujeet lying on the ground. No help was given to him for around four hours. A police team took him to a nearby private hospital. From there was referred to Dewa hospital after primary treatment, and from there he was referred to Civil Hospital in Lucknow,” said the SHO.
Sujeet had suffered 30 per cent burn injuries and had several internal injuries, mainly in his kidneys.
According to the FIR registered on the complaint filed of Sujeet’s wife, Poonam, he was on his way to his in-laws from his home at Tindaula village when he was chased by dogs, and as he tried to hide near the house of Shravan Yadav and Umesh Yadav, they caught hold of him, suspecting him of being a thief and started beating him up.
“On July 17, I had some argument with my husband. After which, around 6 pm, I left for my parents’ house, which is situated around 5 km from here (Tindaula). Later, the same night my husband left his house to come to me. He generally travels by motorcycle that he has, but that day it was not at home, and he started coming to my parents’ house on foot,” Sujeet’s wife Poonam told The Indian Express.
“When he reached Raghavpurwa, which falls on the way (around 3 km from Tindaula), dogs chased him. When he tried to hide, he was beaten up by Shravan and others. Even though he kept pleading that he is not a thief and even called my father for help, he was not let off. He was tortured and then set ablaze,” Poonam said, adding that his husband worked as a painter in Lucknow. The couple has two sons — a three-year-old and a seven-month-old.
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According to residents of Raghavpurwa village, two days ago before Sujeet was set on fire, there was a burglary at Shravan’s house. Two gallons of peppermint oil, around Rs 70,000 in cash and jewellery worth Rs 2-3 lakh were stolen, they said.
“The family was preparing for the marriage of Shravan’s sister and there was jewellery at his house. On the night of July 15, there was a theft in the house. Police were informed, but no report was registered as such. On the night of July 17, Shravan and others who were sleeping in an adjoining room near the cattle shed when they saw someone trying to peek inside his house. He cried for help, and soon a crowd of 60-70 people gathered. They caught the man (Sujeet) and started beating him up. Shravan and family members, however, didn’t even touch him. I do not know what happened after that,” Shravan’s cousin Sanjay Yadav, claiming that Sujeet had even confessed to the theft.
Shrikishan, 85, a resident of the village who claimed to have witnessed the incident, said, “It is true that kerosene was poured on the victim in order to torture him and he was later set on fire. But no one knows who actually did that. There are always a few people in every mob who are always too excited. The same happened in this case too. Beating up someone and tying him up can be justified if the person is a thief. But setting someone on fire can never be justified.”
Courtesy ; The Indian Express