Updated: March 23, 2021 8:18:19 am
Jeetendra (27) was behind the wheel while heading home from his farms with his family on Saturday morning. He slowed down while driving on Jewar road to take a turn towards their house in Dhanaura village. At the entrance of the village, Jeetendra found a man standing in the middle of the road with his gun pointed at the vehicle. And then a spray of bullets hit the vehicle.
“They appeared to be using automatic weapons. One man was firing from front and others from the sides. I ducked beneath the steering wheel. My father, mother and brother were sitting behind and they tried to squeeze below. My brother was not lucky. If not for the gunner, we all would have died,” said Jeetendra.
The firing on Saturday was a fallout of a family rivalry that goes back three decades. The accused had opened fire to kill Dharmpal’s family which had been given police protection in anticipation of such an attack. Dharmpal’s son Sandeep died on spot after a bullet injury on the head, and his other son Jeetendra and his wife received injuries. Police gunner Pushpendra was also shot at during the attack.
Sandeep’s murder was the seventh killing in the rivalry between Dharmpal and Amit’s family. Earlier, Dharmpal’s father, brother and mother had been murdered over a span of 14 years. Amit’s mother and uncle were also killed, allegedly in retaliation. Amit is currently lodged in jail and police say he executed the murder while in custody. Amit’s history sheet has 22 cases, including five murder cases.
The incident has brought back the bitter memories of a 1990 incident which was the starting point of conflict for many families. According to local residents, one Inder had had an argument with others over a difference of opinion. The argument took an ugly form and both parties planned revenge on Holi that year.
“I had never seen so much brutality in my life. At least 5 people died that day. From that day, our village changed completely. Revenge and murder became the norm,” said Kunwar Pal, a resident.
Families of Amit and Dharmpal were on opposite sides in the clash. With time, more family members got involved, said local residents and police. From that year onwards, villagers in Dhanaura also began to be apprehensive around Holi, fearing violence in some form.
Jeetendra had told people that Amit was planning something sinister ahead of Holi. “I was getting information from many people that Amit was up to something. I had written many letters to the police and administration and the security cover was given very late. The firearm licence was given even later. I had told police many times that anything could happen. Sandeep had nothing to do with this rivalry,” said Jeetendra.
Sandeep worked in a private firm in Noida and was at home since lockdown. Villagers in the area described said he barely spoke to anyone. He married in November last year, said the family.
“The 1990 incident was the focal point of all conflict which has carried on for generations. It appears at this point Amit feels he has nothing to lose. He is already in jail like his father and uncles. As far as the motive is concerned, it is revenge,” said SSP, Bulandshahr, Santosh Kumar Singh.
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