When Seema, a resident of Palwal’s Kailash Nagar, saw a police car come to a halt near her home on Friday afternoon, she assumed the officers wanted to relieve themselves. It was only when a neighbour ran up to her that she realised her husband, Ramesh Kumar, was seated inside in handcuffs. “I thought he must have been picked up because he was intoxicated. But the policemen told me he had been arrested in a murder case,” said Seema, at her double-storey home in Palwal. The family claimed police had come to verify Kumar’s identity and make a few enquiries.
Kumar was arrested on Friday by the Haryana Railway Police in connection with the stabbing of three brothers on a Mathura-bound train, one of whom, Junaid Khan, died later. Junaid’s brothers have alleged they were attacked by a mob of 15-20 people which mocked their attire and called them beef eaters.
The Railway Police has claimed Kumar confessed to the murder, stating that he boarded the train at Ballabhgarh in an intoxicated state and got into the scuffle, stabbing the boys as the crowd egged him on.
But Hashim, one of the brothers who was injured, has claimed that while Kumar was part of the mob, he wasn’t the one who wielded the knife.
In Kailash Nagar, news of Kumar’s arrest was met with shock. The son of a farmer, Kumar was born in Palwal’s Jodhpur village. After his mother died, his father remarried and had three sons — all of them farmers.
With no education, Kumar — a father of four — started farming on land he owned in Jodhpur. Seven years ago, he sold off the land and moved to Kailash Nagar, where he began working as a driver. Then, a month ago, he took up work as a ‘helper’ at a factory at Ballabhgarh “due to problems in renewing his licence”.
His wife admitted that Kumar has a habit of drinking, but added that he is “never abusive or violent afterwards”. “There have been times I have found him at the station, completely drunk but even then he always comes home quietly and sleeps it off. He doesn’t misbehave,” Seema said.
She also claimed police may have extracted a false confession out of him when he was drunk.
The last time Kumar was seen before the incident was on Thursday evening, when he left home to attend a “10-12-hour” night shift. His wife said he always took the train from Palwal to Ballabhgarh — a 20-minute journey — and back.
“We know he was at the station till 7 pm because he purchased samosas from a vendor at the platform, which he sent back with our daughter,” said Seema.
Kumar’s children — daughters aged 14, 12 and 10, and an eight-year-old son — are meanwhile at home, “confused”. Seema said the 10-year-old remembers Kumar sitting in the police car, “trying to hide his face because he felt humiliated”.
“They keep asking when he will return, but I don’t know what to tell them,” Seema said.