A 25-YEAR-old jawan was allegedly beaten up by some local goons for reportedly refusing to pay them “donation” to construct his house at Khurigachi in Hooghly’s Bhadreshwar area. Police have arrested two of the victim’s neighbours on Monday night. Praveen Kumar Rajak, a sepoy in Rashtriya Rifles, had come to his native place at Rishra in Hooghly on May 3 to begin construction of his house. At present, Praveen’s family stays at a rented house in Rishra.
Praveen said some men from the area demanded a donation of Rs 1 lakh from him on May 4, when he went to visit his plot of land at Khurigachi.
“They demanded a donation, saying that whoever constructs a house has to donate. Initially, I thought they were some government officials but then I understood they were just local goons. Since I had all my documents in place, I did not pay heed to them. On May 5, my workers began construction work,” Praveen, who is currently posted in Kashmir’s Bandipur, said.
The problem, Praveen said, arose on May 6 when construction workers went to wash hands at a roadside water tap. “Some men did not allow them to wash hands. They said my workers were touching the tap with their dirty hands. They claimed the tap was their property. I told them that I will not surrender before their threats and came back to the construction site. Within a few minutes, armed with sticks and rods, some eight to 10 men came and attacked me. No one came for my help initially. The workers fled out of fear. Finally, a local woman intervened and the assailants fled,” he added.
The jawan had received head, shoulder and leg injuries. Later, his brother Pankaj Rajak got an FIR lodged with the police.
When contacted, SP (Hooghly) Sukesh Jain said that two persons — Samu Paswan and Marco Paswan — have been arrested on the basis of a complaint lodged by Pankaj. They were released on bail on Tuesday.
“We had received a complaint. Those arrested are the neighbours of the complainant and they have been booked under IPC,” he added.
While sources said that the two arrested persons are local strongmen, police claimed they don’t have any criminal history. “Prima facie, the fight was over a water tap. The allegations need to be verified,” said a police officer.
While police said the FIR did not mention extortion, Praveen said: “They had demanded donation of Rs 1 lakh. My brother had lodged the police complaint. He was not aware about the extortion demand till then. Now, I will go and file a complaint with all details.”
Praveen, who joined the Army in 2011, added: “Why shall I pay money for constructing my own house to some men I don’t even know… Is this what a soldier deserves? I had never felt this bad in my life… I am shattered, upset… I was kicked like one hits a dog. Is this the way a nation treats their soldiers, that too when he is just trying to build a house for his family?”
“My father Ashok Rajak is a jute mill worker. I was excited to build a house of our own. Hence, I applied for a 20-day holiday and thought that I will at least lay the initial foundation of the house so that my brother and father do not face much problem in completing the house,” the jawan said.
“I fight for my nation. I have been posted in Kashmir since August last year. It’s bad that I need security in my hometown”, he added.
“Police personnel have been deployed at the construction site… he is now free to construct his house,” said a police officer.
When contacted, Chairman of Bhadreshwar Municipality, Manoj Upadhyay, said: “I have been informed about the incident. While the sepoy has alleged that he was asked for money, the other side has denied it. Basically, the fight was over a municipality water tap.” “Immediate action was taken and police have arrested two persons. We do not entertain such things in our locality. If at all the accused, who are known in the area, had demanded money, they will face consequences,” he added.