The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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The delegation met Virendra’s family. His father, Rattan Lal, his aged mother, Ramvati, broken by grief, his wife, Lakshmi Devi, and their two young sons, his brothers, Devendra and Rajesh. The mother kept repeating, but my son was so tall, so strong, how could they kill him' She has not been told that her beloved son was surrounded and beaten to death and his head smashed in by big stones.

No government official has visited the village, no minister. For the government and the administration, the incident might never have occurred, these young men might never have lived. The delegation joined a meeting at the chaupal organized by the local youth. They were planning how best to help the families and to ensure that those guilty are arrested.

Earlier the delegation had met the superintendent of police, Mohammed Aqil, in Jhajjar. He had not been able to reach the chowki because of road blocks. His assessment is that the Dalits were actually “presumed to be Muslims” and that is why they were attacked. This was the opinion repeated by almost all the police personnel we spoke to. He gave us details of the police version...and admitted that there has been no investigation into the reported buying of the cow in Farroukhnagar. He said that the police tried to ascertain the truth from the Dalits and then tried to convince the villagers, who had brought them to the chowki, of the facts.

According to him, the police at the chowki were not biased. It was assistant sub-inspector, Dharmendra, who first stated that no crime had been committed by the Dalits since it was a dead cow being skinned. He also said that the Dalits had been beaten by the villagers and then brought to the chowki, but had no answer as to why they were then not taken to the hospital. He said he was first informed of the situation at around 7 pm when he was at the residence of the deputy commissioner, Mahendra Singh. They were monitoring the situation and informed the sub-divisional judicial magistrate and other police personnel to go to the chowki. Aqil received a call from a VHP leader shortly thereafter informing him that “some cow-killers” had been caught and that the police should not release them. The delegation took this as a threat to him, but he said he took it at its face value...

When asked why the police had not protected the Dalits by using firearms against the mob, he said they were heavily outnumbered and it would have worsened the situation. He expressed concern at the congratulatory demonstration organized the following day. However, on being asked what his instructions are from the government, he said it was to “maintain peace”. We asked him directly if this meant no arrests: he indicated that at present his priority was to defuse the situation, and the arrests would follow after an investigation.

Clearly, he is under pressure not to take action against those responsible for the violence. Others told us that the mobs were shouting slogans against him and accusing him of helping those who slaughtered cows. Perhaps it was this propaganda against him that prompted him to inform us that he had taken action against those responsible for a case of cow slaughter a few months ago. He went out of his way to defend the police personnel and their version. He described how the station house officer had tried to protect the Dalits and got badly injured on his arm, but when we met the SHO and looked for the injury, it was barely a scratch. For whatever reason, he too is involved in trying to cover up the criminal negligence of the administration and the police to prevent the killings.

The delegation went to the Duleena chowki where the incident occurred. This is a small brick building of two rooms in an open area. We took in the dreadful sight on the road just outside the chowki, of two separate big patches of dried blood that must have flowed from the bodies of the innocents as they were being brutally beaten to death. Present at the chowki were the SHO, Rajendra Singh, and other constables, Naseeb Singh, who owns a petrol pump in the area and who is the president of the Jhajjar Bar Association. Later, the deputy superintendent, Narendra Singh, also came to the chowki.

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