Updated: June 18, 2021 7:00:05 am
A 42-year-old man from Jhajjar in Haryana succumbed to burn injuries sustained Wednesday night near the farm protest site at the Tikri border with Delhi, with his relatives alleging that four men associated with the agitation had set him on fire.
The deceased has been identified as Mukesh, a bus driver, from Kasar village. Police said they have arrested one of the men named in the complaint filed by Mukesh’s brother, Madan Lal.
“We have arrested one of the accused, Krishan, who hails from Jind and had been mentioned by name in the FIR. He was participating in the farmers’ protest at the Tikri border,” said Inspector Jaibhagwan, Station House Officer (SHO) of Sector 6, where the FIR was registered on the basis of Lal’s complaint.
“Investigations have revealed that the victim and the accused were drinking liquor together on Wednesday evening, when they got into an argument that escalated into a fight. It was during the fight that the accused set fire to the victim. Efforts are on to arrest the other people involved in the crime. Further investigations are being conducted,” he said.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, however, denied that farm protesters were responsible for the incident and appealed to the Haryana government to carry out a “fair investigation”. Describing Mukesh’s death as “suicide… spurred by a conflict in his family”, the Morcha said the allegations levelled by his family were “part of the continuous efforts to defame and slander the ongoing farmers’ movement”.
Late Thursday, SKM leaders released a video which, one of them said, was shot at the spot and purportedly shows the victim saying that he had set himself on fire for personal reasons.
Pawan Kumar, DSP (Bahadurgarh), said: “The victim’s family has alleged that four people sprinkled petrol or diesel on him and set him on fire. One accused has been named in the FIR, and another has since been identified. The other two are unnamed.”
In his complaint, Lal stated that Mukesh had gone to “roam” outside around 5 pm and reached the protest site. “I got to know that the four protesters sprinkled oil on my brother with the intention of killing him, and set him on fire,” he alleged.
Lal stated that he alerted the sarpanch of his village and asked him to reach the spot “near the HP pump near Kasar”.
Toni Kumar, the sarpanch, said: “I saw that Mukesh had been completely burnt. We called an ambulance and accompanied him to the Civil Hospital. In the ambulance, he told us that he had been drinking with four other men who told him they were part of the farmers’ movement. He said he was sitting there when they sprinkled either kerosene or diesel on him and set him on fire using a matchstick before fleeing the spot. Passersby doused the flames and alerted Madan.”
The sarpanch said: “As far as we know, Mukesh had not met these people before. We do not know why they did this. He said they told him they were farmers, but we do not think farmers will do such a thing, these are anti-social elements. He was the only earning member of his family, how will his wife and child manage? The government must give them compensation.”
According to police, the FIR was first registered under IPC section 307 (attempt to murder) and later converted to section 302 (murder) after Mukesh succumbed to his injuries around 2.30 am that night.
In a statement issued Thursday evening, Samyukt Kisan Morcha said their volunteers had tried to save the deceased.
“Yesterday night, a person was seen around the HP petrol pump. Soon he poured petrol and set himself on fire. As soon as the Kisan Morcha volunteers noticed it, they rushed in to douse fire and save his life. They learnt that this attempted suicide was spurred by a conflict in his family. An employee from the petrol pump identified Mukesh and informed his family who took him to hospital. It is shocking that the farmers who tried their best to save an unknown person are now being implicated in attempt to murder,” read the statement.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.