The Haryana Police on Thursday arrested three more suspects named by Jitender, the father of the two Dalit children who were burnt alive in Sunpedh. With this, seven of the accused are now in custody — all are relatives of former village sarpanch Rajan, whose husband Balwant Singh, 72, was among the first to be arrested.
Meanwhile, Jitender’s wife, Rekha, 23, is learnt to have corroborated his statement to the police in which he had alleged that they were attacked early on Tuesday morning. The special investigation team on Thursday sealed his house.
Rekha, who suffered 30 per cent burns, is still recovering in Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital, where doctors said her condition was stable. Jitender, who suffered injuries to his hands and foot, was shifted to a hospital in Ballabhgarh after he complained of exhaustion and dehydration. The couple’s children, three-year-old Vaibhav and nine-month-old Divya, were killed in the attack.
Sources in the Haryana Police said Rekha, in her statement to a magistrate on Wednesday evening, corroborated her husband’s statement. “She told the magistrate that her family was attacked in the middle of the night while they were asleep. She said she did not know who was behind the attack, and said her husband may know the names of the perpetrators,” a senior police officer told The Indian Express.
“Though I have not received a copy of her statement, I have learnt that this is what she told the magistrate. It is now for the CBI to find out if she was saying the truth or not. Her condition is stable. She may recover from her injuries,” he said.
Sources said the families of Balwant and Jitender have a longstanding feud which has claimed five lives since October 2014. Last year, three of Balwant’s relatives were killed, for which nine members of Jitender’s family are currently on trial.
Jitender has named 11 Rajputs from Sunpedh village — all are Balwant’s relatives — in his complaint. Balwant’s son, Dharam Singh, 50, a farmer, was arrested with his father. Balwant’s cousins, Sanjay and Kartar, who both sustained injuries in a knife attack in October 2014, have also been arrested.
Two others who have been arrested are Aman Singh, 24, and Akash, 21, who are the sons of Balwant’s elder brother Bharat Pal Singh. Bharat Pal Singh was killed in the October 2014 incident. Suraj, 20, is the youngest of the family to have been arrested. He is the son of Killu, who is also Balwant’s cousin.
Four others have been named in the FIR — Deshraj, Adel, Naunihal and Joginder. Deshraj and Adel are the sons of Balwant’s cousin Rambu Singh. Adel is a lawyer in the Faridabad district court. Naunihal is the son of Balwant’s younger brother Tope Singh. Joginder, a student, is the son of Balwant’s brother Tularam.
All those who have been arrested live near Jitender’s house which was set on fire. They have been booked on charges of murder, mischief by fire with intent to destroy house and rioting among other sections of the IPC and sections of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
“The investigation is going on. No details can be divulged at this point of time. The injured woman is in hospital and under treatment. I don’t have any details about her statement to the magistrate,” said Faridabad’s Police Commissioner Subhash Yadav.
Sources said the magistrate has sealed Rekha’s statement and will be submitting it in court as part of the procedure.
Balwant’s wife became the sarpanch when the seat was reserved for women between 2005 and 2010. “Though his wife was the sarpanch, he called the shots on all decisions taken by the panchayat when his wife held the position,” said a neighbour. Residents said Balwant was among the most politically influential in this village of about 6,000 people.
Balwant’s sister, Rajwati, 80, alleged that it was a “fight between the husband and wife”. “They have left no men in our family. Just because their nine men are in jail for murdering my brothers, they have named the remaining men. All this happened because of an internal family fight,” she alleged.