Since May 27, the simmering divide between the Ganga-kateves (migrants) and the basindas (settlers) has widened further in the village of Katra Sadatganj in Badaun. The two minor cousins, whose bodies were found hanging from a mango tree in the village, were Mauryas. The Mauryas are basindas — they own land and till their own fields. The relatives of the three accused are Ganga-kateves, who work in fields owned by others and are paid at the end of the day.
The CBI recently decided that it will not file a chargesheet against the three accused, all of them brothers, at this stage due to lack of evidence. If the agency is unable to file a chargesheet against an accused in such cases within 90 days of their arrest, they become eligible for bail.
Though relieved, the father of the three accused says his troubles are far from over. “It is all gone. They ate it all up. During the two months I was away in Badam Nangla after the incident, the cattle ate up the entire wheat crop which we had gathered recently,” he says. After his sons were arrested, there was no one to tend to the crop. “I have no money to even get my sons out on bail. I had to leave the village with my wife after they were arrested,” he says.
The Ganga-kateves are migrants who have come over to live in and work on the fields owned by others in villages like Katra Sadatganj because their own fields in the districts of Farukkhabad, Badaun and Shahjahanpur the Ganga has inundated and eroded over the years. The Ramganga, a tributary of the Ganga which flows through the three districts swallow a few villages each year. The family of three accused used to live in one such village, Badam Nangla, where their watermelon fields were destroyed by the Ganga waters in a flood around five years ago. When trouble came calling in May, the parents fled back to their old home.
The 50-year-old who has just returned from Ushait, a sub-town in Badaun district, sits near his wife, looking harried and irritable. The suspects’ mother, in her late 40s, stares blankly at the ceiling. The house, a brick structure, has seven rooms, four of which are roofed and functional, while the three at the rear have not been constructed fully yet.
“I had gone to the market in Ushait,” the father says. “I don’t go to Katra market anymore because everyone stares and talks. It has become very uncomfortable and I fear that I might be attacked by Mauryas and even the other basindas.”
Despite returning to Katra a month ago, he has been making frequent trips to Ushait for his rations. But, since the past two day, the purpose of the trips has changed. “I had gone to arrange money,” he gives up. “Mediapersons come and go but where do I get the money from? The question about approaching a lawyer does not arise when I don’t have the money,” he says. “I will have to sell one of the two grown buffaloes,” ha adds under his breath.
The youngest of the three accused is aged 18. His parents say that he was never interested in academics and dropped out of school in Class V. Of the three brothers, he is the most boisterous and troublesome, they say. “We have left him to his own and we do not know what he did with the girls that night, or what the police have been saying. We do not know if the girl and he were friends or if they knew each other. We know nothing, okay,” they say.
The second son is aged 21 and took his Class XII exams recently, says the mother. The oldest one is married and usually helps the father with field work.
The father says that for the time being, the family is living on the money earned from the previous Baisakhi crop. “My sons and I used to work in the fields and earn about Rs 250 each day. Income from this source has stopped,” he says.
The father says that no one in the village meets him anymore. He says the only people who might help him are a few loyal friends from his community of 150 Yadav families, a minority in the village of around 6,000 people. He says that he is thankful to god for the CBI decision, but the bigger problem for him is to get his sons out.
Neeraj Yadav, who stays in the village, says the incident changed the dynamics in the area. “The majority of the village blamed the three boys and the two constables for violence against lower castes. Now, when the basindas pass by our settlements, they do not even greet us. Nobody knows what really happened, but everyone holds our entire community responsible for the incident. They say the Yadavs are gangsters. But I am a mere mazdoor, I have nothing to do with this,” he says.
Ramkali Maurya, a 60-year-old basinda, says that people from her community do not visit or even look at the Ganga-kateves. “They are goondas and we want to have nothing to do with them. Who knows what they might do to any of us?” she says.