IN THE western Uttar Pradesh town of Bijnor, depending on whom you ask, Adesh Dahima alias Monu Gujjar is either a “young, hard-working” lawyer with a passion for sports, or a “hot-head” who got angry easily. For his elder sister Rekha Dahima, 43, the 34-year old is “dunia ka sabse badnaseeb aadmi (the most unfortunate person on Earth)”.
Did all of this come together on August 5, to result in a murder, 17 years in the making? Police are investigating this after that morning in Meerut, Adesh allegedly killed a retired sub-inspector, Daya Ram Singh, for having insulted his late father in 1999.
Still recovering from the shock, Rekha, the only other member of the family left now, talks about how Adesh and their father Sita Ram were very close. “We lost our mother 25 years ago. Before Monu could recover from that, our elder brother died due to an illness. Our sister-in-law left us. Then I fell out with my family after I married outside the community. That left him and our father.”
The killing had its roots, according to police, in another love affair. “Monu was in love with a Punjabi girl who lived in Bijnor Medical Society colony. They got married and lived together for a fortnight in 1999, before her family, upset with their marriage, got our father arrested. Daya Ram (the then in-charge of the police outpost in Bijnor) humiliated our father. Police beat up Monu too, and the girl was taken away,” says Rekha. They don’t know what happened to the girl after that, she adds. Rekha and her husband also live in Bijnor.
The Circle Officer (CO) of the Civil Lines Police Station in Meerut, Vinod Sirohi, says Adesh has confessed that the “ill-treatment” meted out to his father by Daya Ram was the reason for the murder. He talks about the police official entering their house in Bijnor, and kicking their father publicly, Sirohi says.
Adesh has reportedly also told police he waited this long to carry out his “revenge” as Sita Ram forbade him from doing anything rash. When Sita Ram died on November 21, 2015, at the age of 73, Adesh allegedly began his planning.
An accomplished basketball player, he coached police teams. Those contacts came in handy when Adesh started trying to trace Daya Ram, who retired as sub-inspector in 2013. Station Officer, Medical College Police Station, Bijnor, R K Vashisht says policemen in both Bijnor and Meerut helped Adesh, after he told them he wanted to meet Daya Ram for some personal work. Having traced Daya Ram to Meerut, Adesh reportedly started visiting the city, 73 km from Bijnor, regularly. SO Vashisht says these visits convinced Adesh that the best time to attack Daya Ram was during his morning walk.
The Bijnor district courts, where Adesh worked as an advocate, is in shock. Recalling the “young, hardworking” advocate he knew, senior lawyer Satyapal Jhangala, who is now representing him, says, “How can anyone take revenge after 17 years? That too a person like Adesh.”
According to Jhangala, Adesh went to Meerut only for treatment, having hurt himself while coaching a police team. “He had a backache after he coached the Bareilly police in basketball for the last annual police games.” Jhangala, however, doesn’t deny that Daya Ram’s actions had hurt the family badly. “It was very embarrassing for them, more than even when their only daughter eloped,” he says.
Dharmendra Singh, SO of Sherkot Police Station, is among those who remember Adesh as a good coach and player. “He also officiated as referee at times. He was nice to talk to,” says Singh. At the Nehru Stadium, located in the heart of Bijnor, players recall him as a regular who practised hard, including running 10-15 km a day. “He had been with us since his days at the Vardhaman Degree College here. He was the brightest basketball player we had,” says district sports officer Atul Sinha.
The officer says the elder Dahima brother, Rakesh, was also into sports, and was a national-level wrestler.
Only a few admit to the angry side of Adesh, and fewer to having seen it. Fellow advocate Nagar Singh says, “He isn’t a bad man; he just couldn’t tolerate anything inappropriate.” Admitting “there was a lot of anger in Adesh,” Rekha, however, asserts, “I am sure he could not kill anyone.”
She repeats that Adesh had only seen bad times. “We all wanted to forget about that incident of 1999, but my father’s reputation, which was everything to Monu, was ruined,” said Rekha, adding that there were times Sita Ram would cry at night remembering the thrashing and humiliation he faced in lockup. Adesh, she adds, felt it was all because of him.
Apart from the deaths that left him shattered, Adesh was also hurt when plans for his second marriage too got thwarted recently, Rekha says. “Papa had fixed the wedding for him. He was ready too, and then, just a month before the wedding, Papa died. It got put off,” she says.
The murder case was cracked easily as police first turned to all the people who bore a grudge against Daya Ram due to his profession, and put several phone calls under surveillance.
Police claim to have tracked down Adesh through CCTV footage and his phone records. Police have recovered a car and a country-made pistol allegedly used in the crime. An “accomplice”, Bijnor-based businessman Vipin Sharma, was reportedly present with him at the time of the murder. Sharma is also in custody, with a local court rejecting both his and Adesh’s bail applications.
“Adesh’s phone was located in Meerut near the crime spot. CCTV footage shows a blurred image of a tall man resembling Adesh. He was detained for interrogation and confessed,” SO Singh says. Jhanghala asks why police didn’t question Daya Ram Singh’s younger son, who is believed to have fallen out with his family after marrying outside the community. “Singh was leaving all his property to his elder son. Don’t you think the younger son would be angry?” he argues.
Now lodged at the Meerut district jail, Adesh joins the crowd of prisoners who are waiting to meet visitors. “Everything has been published in the papers. Why have you come here?” he tells this reporter. He won’t talk about the murder, he adds, “Ab is baare mein baat nahin karna. Khatam ho gaya jo hona tha (I don’t want to talk about this. What had to happen, has happened).”
On his father, Adesh is more forthcoming. “What can I tell you how he was?” he says, looking away. “Let me just say it is your bad luck you never got to meet him. I am fortunate I was with him till his final moments.”