Police have claimed that the murder of a 20-year-old Dalit, whose mutilated body was found on November 28 at a schoolground in Barmer, was the result of a fight between him and his cousin. But with Dalits convinced there is more to the death, including an “affair” with an OBC girl, the town is tense.
Labour unions held a strike over the issue, while sweepers stayed away from work for a week. On Sunday, even as newspapers had photographs of the civic chief sweeping the roads , the protests reached a high as they coincided with B R Ambedkar’s death anniversary. They were called off following a clarification by police, though the ‘Ajay Valmiki Hatyakand Sangharsh Samiti’ continues.
Ajay Kumar Valmiki, a contractual sweeper with Barmer Nagar Palika, was found with the skin of his face peeled off from neck and above, his eyes gouged out, a hole in the skull, and the brain, larynx and trachea missing. Police have said Ajay’s cousin Rahul confessed to killing him, and that dogs may have eaten up his body, leaving it mutilated. Refuting the charge of hushing up the case, they say it took them long to zero in on Rahul as they were chasing the girl angle.
“Ajay had returned from a wedding after a week and the two were celebrating with drinks. However, there was an altercation and Rahul attacked Ajay with a stone,” Barmer SP Paris Deshmukh said.
Ajay’s father Basant Kumar Valmiki, a supervisor in the Nagar Palika, said the OBC girl was deeply in love with Ajay. Bhogaram Mangal, a spokesperson for the Samiti, said Ajay’s rings and necklace were missing when his body was found. “Police claim Rahul stole them, but why would he steal, rather than run away?”he said. Coordinator Ramesh Kumar said Rahul may have been paid off by the girl’s family.
The girl’s family claimed Ajay would harass her and she never reciprocated his feelings.