Standing outside Hyderabad’s Panjagutta police station Wednesday afternoon, brothers Arjun Kumar Yadav and Kailash Kumar Yadav made a few hurried phone calls. When their efforts came to a naught, the two decided they would have to cremate their younger brother Sonu’s body in the nearby crematorium.
Nineteen-year-old Sonu Kumar Yadav, a migrant worker from Jharkhand, was found hanging in the bathroom of his rented room in Panjagutta’ Dwarakapuri colony Tuesday morning. His brothers and friends believe the youngster ended his life after suffering huge losses while betting on IPL matches.
A native of Bansmandi village in Giridih district of Jharkhand, he had been married only for six months. After a country-wide lockdown stalled their lives, Sonu and his oldest brother Naresh (35) managed to catch a train home while brothers Arjun (22) and Kailash (20) managed to board buses a few weeks later. All of them were working in Hyderabad for several years now.
“As much as we would want to take his body home so that everyone could have a last look at him, we cannot afford to. We cannot have our family members come here immediately. The best option for us is to carry his ashes back to perform post-death rituals,” said Arjun Kumar, who works at a bakery in Dilsukhnagar in the city.
Kailash, who works at a hospital canteen and lives close to Sonu’s room, is unable to understand why Sonu would kill himself.
On Tuesday morning, he had gone to Sonu’s room and counseled the younger brother. “I asked him to leave all vices like drinking and online betting. He spoke to our family members back home and I left. In another couple of hours, his roommate found the body in the bathroom,” he said, adding: “We know he lost money in betting but why would he take his life?”
When contacted, the Investigation Officer and sub-inspector of Panjagutta police, Arun Kumar, said the police have seized the youngster’s mobile phone for examination. A case is registered under Section 174 CrPC at the police station.
Sonu is said to have debts amounting to thousands of rupees which he had borrowed from various people. A Class 9 dropout, Sonu had been living in Hyderabad for over five years. After returning to the city three months ago, he tried his luck doing odd jobs and had recently started selling tender coconuts outside NIMS Hospital.
“He would earn Rs 400 or 500 a day. At the end of the month, three of us brothers used to pool in our savings and send money home. He was not able to share his savings because he was betting money. He would never share any details,” said Kailash.
Deepak Kumar, a friend of the brothers who accompanied them to the police station, added: “He would tell me about winning Rs 10,000 at once in betting and sometimes losing more. He was ambitious in life for the kind of job he did. He was so young to die.”
After examining his phone, the Police found Sonu was a member of three WhatsApp groups, namely, ‘fix cricket predictions’, ‘Hyderabad Trusted Line’, and ‘Hyderabad Trusted Line sessions’ that actively organised cricket betting. Further investigations are on.
“We have information that he was into cricket betting online and lost money. The family has not raised any suspicion in his death. After postmortem examination, the body was handed over to the family Wednesday,” SI Arun Kumar said.
In the evening itself, the brothers cremated the body in the city and will leave for home Friday.
As online betting is prohibited by law in the state, Telangana Police, especially the police teams in Hyderabad, Cyberabad, and Rachakonda commissionerates, have apprehended over two dozen online cricket betting organisers and bookies in the last few weeks. On Thursday, Hyderabad police commissioner Anjani Kumar stated betting on cricket matches with advice for parents.
“As the IPL match is going on, 30 online cricket betting cases have been registered in our Hyderabad city for the last 4-5 weeks.” In the statement, he asked the parents to tell their children not to get into online cricket betting and stressed that it would not be easy for youngsters with cases registered against them to find jobs or get visas.
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