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'Attitude of Cops Changed After Last Rites’: Family of Alwar Lynching Victim Now Seeks Justice for 2 Deaths

On July 16, Harish, a Dalit, was allegedly fatally assaulted on July 16 after his motorcycle hit a woman on the road. He succumbed to his injuries two days later. His pregnant wife said police were not doing enough and this drove her father-in-law to despair.

Aditya Sharma | News18.com@aditya_shz

Updated:August 17, 2019, 12:00 PM IST
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'Attitude of Cops Changed After Last Rites’: Family of Alwar Lynching Victim Now Seeks Justice for 2 Deaths
Family members and locals protest outside the hospital in Alwar. (News18)
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Alwar: Even before family members of Harish Jatav, who was allegedly lynched weeks ago in Rajasthan’s Alwar district, could come to terms with his death, his father Rattiram ended his life on Thursday. He was reportedly upset with the slack probe into his son’s death.

The visually impaired shoemaker from Jhiwana village, who committed suicide by consuming poison, was unhappy with police “trying to suppress the investigation into the murder” of his 28-year-old son.

On July 16, Harish, a Dalit, was allegedly fatally assaulted on July 16 after his motorcycle hit a woman on the road. He succumbed to his injuries at Safdarjung hospital in Delhi two days later. His pregnant wife, Rekha, said police were not doing enough to probe into the death and this drove her father-in-law to despair.

“If my husband was involved in an accident, there should have been injury marks suggesting the same. There was none. He suffered grave injuries in his head. My husband was beaten to death, but police had initially refused to file an FIR under Section 302 (murder). My father-in-law died demanding justice for him,” she said.

Rekha said Section 302 was added to the FIR after days of protest. Rattiram’s nephew, Titu, who is also the pradhan of Jhiwana zilla parishad, told News18 that before Harish was declared dead and his body was brought to the local police station, police had filed an FIR under IPC sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) and under sections of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

However, even after the port mortem was done, police refused to add Section 302 (murder) to the charge sheet. “Police got Harish's post mortem done. When they asked me to perform my cousin's last rites, I listened to them. The following day, when I spoke to the deputy superintendent of police, his attitude changed,” Titu said.

According to members of the Jatav family, it was only after they sought the intervention of the local MLA and the inspector general of police that Harish’s death was declared a murder.

In the initial complaint, Rattiram had stated that one Umar Sher and his aides had beaten up his son. However, a counter-FIR was registered by the accident victim’s husband, Jamaluddin, who alleged that Harish, a truck driver, was driving under the influence of alcohol.

Rekha, who is expecting her fifth child in another seven months, denied the claim and alleged that police had been bribed by the accused.

On Friday, things escalated further in the sleepy town of Tapukara, when the director general of police and district collector visited the government hospital where Rattiram’s body was being kept. The family refused to allow the authorities conduct a post mortem until their demands were met.

Protesting outside the hospital, Rattiram’s younger son, Dinesh, recalled his father’s struggles to deal with Harish’s death. “My father and uncle had reached the police station the morning after my brother was admitted to Safdarjung hospital. They waited at the police station the entire day. It was only after the accused came to the police station and filed a complaint against my brother, that they could file a charge sheet.”

The family is demanding a government job for Rekha, compensation of Rs 1 crore and immediate arrest of the accused. An official said it was baseless to make such demands and call the death an act of lynching.

"It takes a certain amount of pressure to break someone’s neck. If a person dies that way, it could not just be because someone choked him. Lynching is now being used frequently as a common cause of death among some communities. All incidents of cause and harm are not acts of lynching," he said on conditions of anonymity.

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| Edited by: Sohini Goswami
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