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Palwal's Open Secret: Everyone Knows Who Killed the Greased Cattle Thief, Except Cops

Smeared in grease and scantily clad, 10 men crept into a house in Palwal’s Bahrola village to allegedly steal buffaloes. The adventure ended in gruesome death for one of them.

Rounak Kumar Gunjan | News18.com@Rounak_T

Updated:August 12, 2018, 11:26 AM IST
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Palwal's Open Secret: Everyone Knows Who Killed the Greased Cattle Thief, Except Cops
The Gujjar-dominated village of Bahrola has roughly 150-200 families whose primary occupation is farming and cattle-rearing. (Rounak Kumar Gunjan/News18.com)
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It’s 10 days since the village of Bahrola in Haryana's Palwal has been hiding the grave secret of an alleged murder. The reason of the demise, however, remains rampant and recurring.

No villager believes that the family of 12 staying at the far end of the farms, surrounded by thick vegetation on all four sides of their thatched residence, could have murdered a man. However, when the police arrived at the dilapidated house that morning, they did find a man, tied to a tree, dead.

Preliminary investigation and initial media reports declared it to be a case of mob lynching. However, investigators are yet to reach an evidence-based conclusion. News18 visited the village to find out why.

This Time it Was Not Communal

It was 3 am, when a group of 10 scantily clad men, smeared in grease made their way stealthily through dense verdure to the last house in the village. The group tore through mosquito nets hung for the buffaloes before trying to steal the animals. However, they failed to keep the decibel down, which woke up those inside the house.

Bir Singh and Ram Kishan, two of the four brothers living in the house, were the first to run out. By then, seven of the men had already fled. The grease on their bodies helped two out of the remaining three to slip away as well. But one of them was caught.

After being beaten up, he was tied to a tree right next to the buffaloes, claimed Ram Kishan. The ruckus created had already got other villagers to assemble around the house.

"The man was alive but not in the healthiest of states. He was thrashed a lot but he could not be killed by that. He was intoxicated by some drug, we are sure. He must have hit something in his efforts to flee," said a fellow villager, trying his best to take the blame off the family.

It was 5:30am when one of the villagers called up the police, who did not arrive even an hour later.

Meanwhile, the delirious man spoke for the first time, asking for water.

"He asked us for water. We thought even if he is a thief, we must at least not keep him thirsty. The police will come and punish him anyway," said Ram Kishan's wife. The alleged cattle-thief had his final sip of water and soon after, breathed his last.

Two hours after the first call, police arrived to find the man dead. There was no bloodshed and no witness to allege murder. ‘Internal bleeding in the intestine’, and ‘shock and hemorrhage’ have been identified as the cause of death in the initial post mortem report. SHO Sadar Police Station Devender Singh concluded that it is not a case of “religiously motivated murder”.

Pent-up Anger

Ten days after the incident, the youngest daughter of the family is busy sewing the yellow mosquito-net torn by the alleged perpetrators. This is not the first time she is doing it.

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(Rounak Kumar Gunjan/News18.com)

“Stealing buffaloes is regular now. Cattle thieves, wearing knickers and soaked in oil, get active as soon as crops attain a certain height. Calls to police always go unanswered. Each buffalo costs more than a lakh. It is devastating when your cattle is stolen,” said another villager whose cattle were stolen merely two weeks ago.

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Their only source of the villagers’ income other than the seasonal crops are the buffaloes. (Rounak Kumar Gunjan/News18.com)

The Gujjar-dominated village of Bahrola has roughly 150-200 families whose primary occupation is farming and cattle-rearing. Their only source of income other than the seasonal crops are the buffaloes.

“There have been three thefts in the last one month itself. If police do nothing, what do you expect villagers to do? Would you not retaliate if someone comes to steal in your house?” said Santra Devi, the woman of the house.

Villagers also claimed that similar cases of cattle thefts were happening in neighboring villages of Phulwari, Silouthi and Bamni khera.

Mob Justice Gone Wrong, Again

The cattle-thief remains unidentified. It has been three days since he was cremated by Haryana Police.

Palwal Superintendent of Police Waseem Akram said people came from Bhind and Kannauj to identify the deceased after news of the incident spread but nobody responded in positive.

“We had informed neighbouring police stations and also uploaded his picture on the Zonal Integrated Police Network but in vain. We waited for a week before cremating the body,” said Akram.

Meanwhile, Bir Singh and his elder brother are absconding ever since the cops began their operation. The police have put Ram Kishan behind bars on charges of mob violence leading to death.

However, they are yet to ascertain whether the three brothers and several other villagers murdered the man or was it a case of self-inflicted injury. Nonetheless, the notorious Indian mob has witnessed one more death.
| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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