Days after Kiran Parmar, a 21-year-old orphan from Dalvana in Gujarat’s Banaskantha district was killed — allegedly beaten to death for “facilitating” eloping of a couple from neighbouring Varvadiya — decades-old affinity between people of the two villages are at a breaking point. Kiran, who worked as a waiter in a Surat hotel and had come home to take part in a fair, was a Dalit — as are the couple who have eloped, and many of those arrested for his murder on August 15.
Banaskantha police say this is one of the trickiest case registered under the Atrocities Act in the district in recent times. “We made immediate arrests and are now looking for the 17-year old girl (name withheld) and Kanu Parmar, who have eloped,” Banaskantha’s Superintendent of Police (SP) Neeraj Badgujar said.
Deputy SP of Palanpur (SC/ST cell) Hetal Patel, who is leading the probe, said the elopement caused a rift in Dalit communities of the villages — many of the residents are related by marriage — and the murder “has made matters worse”. “Kiran died when he was beaten — brutally — for the second time by men from his own community from Varvadia village,” Patel added.
Those arrested are Ramesh Parmar, Talshi Parmar, Babu Parmar, Ishwar Parmar, Ashok Parmar, Ramesh Parmar, Vira Parmar and Ramesh Dharma Parmar — all from Varvadiya village, where the eloped couple come from — besides Nayan Rabari and his accomplices Vijay Padhiyar from Vadodara and Vishnu Rabari, Mukesh Rabari, Umang Rabari and Vishwas Rabari, all residents of Ahmedabad
“Kiran, 21, and Kanu, 19 (who eloped with the girl), grew up together and were friends. Kiran had come down from Surat for satam mela (a popular fair). He went to the fair with Kanu and the girl, and someone saw them together there,” said Jetha Parmar, a retired police inspector and Kiran’s uncle.
That report that went out, it appears, as Kiran left for Surat after the fair “but the girl and Kanu did not return home”, Jetha Parmar said. Kiran was heading for Surat in a bus, when Parmars from the girl’s village learnt that he was the last person who was with the couple, and imagined he “facilitated” their elopement. They gave the bus a chase, but unable to stop it, the girl’s father rung up his employer, Amumiyan Lohani, a Vadodara-based businessman, the police said. “Lohani called some friends for help, and his Facebook friend Nayan Rabari responded,” DySP Hetal Patel said.
According to police, Lohani told Rabari about Kiran and sent his picture on WhatsApp, asking him to stop the bus and intercept the young man. Rabari, who was under the impression that the girl was from his own community, intercepted, beat Kiran brutally to “teach him a lesson” and subsequently handed him over to the Parmars of Varvadia, who got him to Vadodara in a car, SP Badgujar said. Kiran Parmar died on the way — the postmortem records cerebral haemorrhage as the cause of death.
Kanu and the girl both belong to Varvadi village — neighbours and distantly related, Jetha said. “Varvadi and our village, Dalvana, have a history of friendship — we, Parmars, from each village have married our daughters to boys from the other. But this incident will change everything,” he said.
Kiran’s younger sister Asha Parmar told The Indian Express, “My brother is dead, and we will not get him back. All I hope now is Kanubhai and the girl are not killed once they are found.”
At Dalvana, 5 km from Varvadia, the girl’s mother, Geeta, said, “I do not want to see my daughter again. She has humiliated us… she is dead for me. She grew up with Kanu, my cousin’s son. How could they run away, and in the process an innocent Kiran was killed.” Kanu’s parents, Vasa and Ratna Parmar, have left home after their son eloped and are staying in a cowshed on the outskirts of the village at present. “We cannot face our community after what our son has done. Our elder son Ramesh is in jail, as he also joined the men in finding Kiran,” Vasa Parmar said.