The second eyewitness in the alleged suicide pact in Alwar, Santosh, has said that one of his friends was indeed talking about ‘career prospects and life’ before he and three others came under a moving train.
Manoj Meena, 24, Satyanarayan Meena alias Duty, 22, and Ritu Raj Meena alias Rishi, 17, died after they were run over by a train Tuesday evening while Abhishek, 18 succumbed to his injuries in a hospital in Jaipur on Friday morning.
Their families have denied the claims made by Rahul, 18, a friend of the four, who has said that his friends were talking about poor job prospects before killing themselves. The families also question the role of another eyewitness, Santosh, who they claim had gone in hiding after the incident.
However, while talking to The Indian Express, Santosh backed Rahul’s claim — in part. “Ritu Raj was talking to Duty about jobs and ending his life. I thought he was joking so I didn’t pay much attention. At about 7:00 – 7:15 pm, Rahul and I were sitting on the tracks while the four of them were on another track. As a train approached, we thought they will move away.”
Santosh says the incident is a haze as things happened quickly, but says that Ritu was the one who didn’t move as the train approached. “When Ritu didn’t move, it seemed as if Duty and Manoj tried to pull him away from the tracks. But the train was very fast so I barely saw anything,” he said. Rahul had said that the four had committed suicide, Santosh says that it could have been an accident.
Rahul also claimed that they had asked him to commit suicide with them, “They were saying, job apni lagegi nahi, kheti badi apan se hogi nahi, aur apan se koi kaam hota nahi hai, parh apan nahi sakte, kya karenege zindagi mein apan, waise hi bhoj hain apan dharti pey. (We won’t get jobs, can’t do farming, are good for nothing and can’t study either, what will we do in our lives, we are a burden on Earth).”
After witnessing the incident, Santosh and Rahul went home without informing anyone and returned to the spot later only when the relatives of the four started calling other friends. Santosh claimed that he was dazed and so both of them retreated to their respective rooms.
Rahul had said that his friends had called home before taking the step. Ritu Raj’s family confirmed he had called home that day, on the phone of Renu, wife of his elder brother Deshraj. “This was sometime in the afternoon. He spoke to his parents – Babu Lal Meena and Teeja Devi – and siblings Deshraj and Kanta Bai.
Sitting at their home in Bairer village, his uncles Sukh Lal and Kaluram Meena vehemently deny that he could have taken such a step due to poor career prospects. “He was in his first year of BA course and at 17 years he was too young to talk or worry about jobs. He was a laadla beta (dear child) of the family and used to keep two phones, one of them an iPhone which he had got for around Rs 70,000. He used to pay Rs 6,000 as rent, had a pair of shoes worth Rs 15,000 and also sported a silver bangle on one of his wrists,” Sukh Lal said.
However, Sukh Lal doesn’t know how Babu Lal, a constable, could afford such expenses for his son even with the added earnings from his one bigah land.
Satyanarayan had also called home on Tuesday evening, as per his family. His sister Sunita says, “He called on sister in law’s phone, telling her he wanted to speak to our mother. Since mother was out in the fields and it was getting dark, my sister-in-law gave the phone to me. But I was too scared to go to the fields after sunset, so I told him to call in the morning.”
At their home in Buchpuri village, his parents Gulle Ram and Kesanti Devi say that things were looking up of late and education or career or family trouble couldn’t have made him take such a step. Near them are three mud huts, where the family used to live earlier. A few years after their son Nemchand Meena, 32, got a job with the Sashastra Seema Bal, the family moved into a brick house, which is still under various phases of construction.
“Duty used to live in Alwar city with brother Surendra, 24 and Nemchand’s daughter – our niece – Sheetal, a class VI student,” says brother Ramdas. “Nemchand had given Duty an ATM card and used to send cash as per requirement. And on Dhanteras, Duty had bought a new motorcycle too,” he said.
Having completed his BA last year, Duty had been appearing for competitive examinations. Duty’s friend Om Prakash, 27, can’t emphasise enough how “good natured and well behaved Duty” was and the family suspects foul play but don’t know whom to blame.
Unlike Satyanarayan and Ritu Raj, Manoj Kumar did not call his family that day. “His phone was broken and his sim-card was in his friend (and eyewitness) Santosh’s phone,” said Vinod, 33, his cousin.
Manoj used to live with his younger brother, also named Santosh, in Alwar. While Manoj graduated in BA six years ago, Santosh was a BTech graduate and both used to study for competitive examinations. His father Ram Bharose says that he used to send about Rs 5-8 thousand per month to both his sons for their rent, meals, books, etc.
While they used to live under a concrete roof in the city, their home in Bahadkho Kalan is made up of thatched roof. They question why Santosh, who hails from the same village and had visited them on Diwali, ran away from the spot without informing anyone and hasn’t visited them yet. Moreover, Manoj’s number has been unreachable since the day of the incident. “We are extremely poor, he could not have committed suicide because of lack of jobs, but if he did, the government should provide a job to his brother,” says his mother Kamlesh.
Police had hoped that things would be clearer once Abhishek gets better. However, he too passed away while undergoing treatment in Jaipur on Friday morning. Abhishek’s uncle Rajesh denied that he could have killed himself over unemployment, but said that after clearing Class XII – in 2016 – he enrolled in BSc but couldn’t clear the first year. “He had no family troubles, financially or otherwise. He had an ATM card too. And he was never aggressive and used to be calm. Three months ago he took all his study material and had shifted to Jaipur to prepare for competitive exams. He was in Alwar temporarily and was supposed to go back to Jaipur.”
While Alwar police is yet to establish the cause, it is looking at the case as suicide. Hari Singh Dhayal, police inspector at Aravali Vihar police station, said that, “These were indeed suicides but the investigation for the cause is still on. Apparently, there was some argument between Abhishek and his girlfriend at Ritu Raj’s room earlier in the day. So we are exploring all possibilities,” Dhayal said.