Unlike what has been widely reported in the media, caste played no role in the killing of the 17-year-old Dalit boy at Domkhera in Uttar Pradesh’s Amroha district on Saturday night — say Uttar Pradesh Police.
While a large section of the news media says an argument over puja at a village temple — a predictable cliché — led to the murder of a member of the Scheduled Castes by a gang of upper caste people, the police department in the district maintains that a dispute over money led to the crime.
According to the version of the teenager’s father, his son and nephew had gone to the village temple on 31 May. A certain Horam Chauhan and his aides stopped them from offering puja, says the father. He adds that his son argued with them and later filed a police complaint on 1 June. The father accuses the police of inaction, claiming they did not act on his son’s complaint. He says on Saturday when his son was sleeping outside their house, Chauhan came with his “caste brethren” and shot him dead.
But this is what the police say:
While, pouncing on the opportunity of caste politics that the incident threw up, Dalit activists passed it off as a case of hate crime, Amroha Police says the murder happened over the settlement of a sum of Rs 5,000.
Sources in the locality told Sirf News that the sum was due as mazdūri (wage) to the victim and his cousin.
The police said they had arrested three people, including Chauhan, and conducted search operations to arrest the other suspects.
Amroha police superintendent Vipin Tada insisted the dispute over money was the reason behind the killing. He said the boy’s brother and Chauhan had taken a mango orchard on contract and they parted ways after the dispute over money.
“There was a brief fight over it a few days ago,” added Tada, insisting it was not an issue of caste.
Police said they registered a case under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code and, despite the absence of the caste angle, the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against Horam Chauhan, Lala Chauhan, Jaiveer and Roshan.
The cops arrested Horam Chauhan and Lala Chauhan on 7 June.
The police superintendent said that one Deepak, who was arrested the next day, allegedly supplied the murder weapon to Horam Chauhan and the two killed the boy while he was sleeping under a tree.