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One Bullet, Several Theories: Why Nobody in Saharanpur Can Agree on Bhim Army Activist’s Death

Sachin, the brother of Chandrashekhar Azad’s Man Friday, was killed after a bullet hit him between his upper lip and nose around noon on May 9. These facts are undisputed. But beyond this, there is little consensus.

Uday Singh Rana | News18.com

Updated:May 11, 2018, 6:12 PM IST
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One Bullet, Several Theories: Why Nobody in Saharanpur Can Agree on Bhim Army Activist’s Death
Dalits protest after death of Bhim Army member Sachin Walia in Saharanpur. (Image courtesy: Firstpost)
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Saharanpur: A large group of people gathered at the house of Kamal Singh Walia, the Saharanpur district president of Dalit group Bhim Army, to offer words of comfort on Thursday. Walia had just performed the last rites of his youngest brother Sachin. With grief, a deep distrust of the state machinery hung in the air along with questions over whether the police is trying to scuttle the probe into 22-year-old’s death.

Sachin, the local media in charge of the Bhim Army, was killed after a bullet hit him between his upper lip and nose around noon on May 9. He was rushed to the hospital and declared "brought dead". These are the facts of the case and they are undisputed. But beyond this, there is little consensus.

The incident took place on Maharana Pratap Jayanti, which was also the first anniversary of the 2017 Saharanpur riots. In the run up to this year's Jayanti, several Rajput outfits had demanded permission to celebrate the event. Bhim Army had opposed it, saying it could lead to a breakdown of law and order.

As a compromise, the administration only gave permission to a gathering of 200 people. But despite the heavy deployment of RAF, PAC and police, a violent incident could not be prevented. The distrust of the state machinery deepens further, said Bhim Army leaders, when one takes into account the fact that one of the outfits at the forefront of the Maharana Pratap Jayanti celebrations was the Hindu Yuva Vahini - an outfit that owes allegiance to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Around 300 meters from Saharanpur's Maharana Pratap Bhavan, where the celebration was held, lies the Dalit dominated village of Ramnagar. Kamal Walia's house is 500 meters from the venue.

kamal walia
Kamal Walia, the brother of the deceased, talks to a government official on Wednesday. (Image courtesy: Firstpost)

Police have called the gunshot wound death an accident, but according to the Bhim Army, it was a political murder. The real target, they said, was Kamal, who is Bhim Army founder Chandrashekhar Azad's Man Friday.

A senior police officer, on condition of anonymity, told News 18, "We can't say anything conclusively because the post mortem report is awaited. Prima facie, it seems like it was an accident. It appears that he (Sachin) may have been cleaning a weapon at his house and it misfired. There was blackening in the upper lip region, which means it was fired at close range."

Sachin's family and friends claim the police is lying. Punching holes into the police theory, Kamal raised a series of questions. "If he shot himself with his own gun, where is the gun? Where is the bullet? Are there any bloodstains in the house?” he asked.

Kamal said that police is welcome to do forensic sweep of the house to see if the bullet was fired there. “I challenge them. But I know they are lying. The fact is that my brother was murdered by Rajputs because of the administration's inefficiency. Now, to hide that, they are concocting a story and leaking it to the press," he said.

It isn't just the manner of his death that is in doubt. Even the location is under question. Hours after the incident, a video of a group of people washing a blood-stained alley in the area was shared by many here. ADG (Meerut) Prashant Kumar said, "We have learnt that some people were washing away the blood. We will investigate this as well."

According to police sources, Sachin accidently shot himself in the house, after which he was taken to the hospital. The blood trail, said a source, was leading from his house to the main road. But Robin Gautam, Sachin's friend who was with him moments before he was shot, has a different story to tell.

"He and I were sitting at his house, when some Local Intelligence Unit (LIU) officers came knocking on the door. After a brief chat, Sachin escorted them to the main road. I didn't go with him and assumed he had left,” he said. Hours later, Gautam said, Kamal told him that Sachin had been shot and rushed to the hospital.

“When I enquired, I found that he had been shot outside, near the main road. Some local people were worried that the blood would attract flies, so they washed the blood. If cops saw this happening, why didn't they stop these people? Why wasn't the area cordoned off? The actual scene of the crime was 200 meters from the house. The cops are clearly lying," he said.

Bhim Army claims that Kamal was the real target as both Chandrashekhar and Bhim Army president Vinay Ratan Singh are in jail, leaving Walia as the power centre in the outfit.

"My brother had the same height and built as me. We looked very similar. It is possible that they shot him thinking it was me. A day before the incident, a Rajput leader from Meerut had posted a video threatening Dalits and Bhim Army. Since I was at the forefront, I was the target," said Kamal.

The Meerut man in question is one Updesh Singh Rana. In his message, Rana had referred to Dalits as "dogs" and Rajputs as "lions". He had issued an open threat to the Bhim Army. Police are now searching for Rana but claim that he is currently not in Uttar Pradesh. Three others, including Sher Singh Rana, have been booked under section 302 of the IPC.

The Hindu Yuva Vahini, which was at the forefront of the Maharana Pratap Jayanti celebrations, has denied the murder claim altogether. Manvendra Singh Chauhan, the district convener of the HYV, said, "I don't want to jump to any conclusions. But reports say the boy was killed in an accident. This shouldn't be made political. Bhim Army had objected to us celebrating Maharana Pratap Jayanti, when it is our constitutional right to do so. The administration should not come under this undue pressure."
| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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