Sumit Kumar had gone to meet his aunt in Shabbirpur village in Saharanpur district on Friday when he got caught in the clash between Dalit and Thakur communities and was killed, his family members said. Sumit, a Thakur, was a resident of Rasoolpur Tonk village, 25 km from Shabbirpur. The 24-year-old worked in the fields, and as a labourer at a highway project near his village.
His ailing father Brahm Singh said that Sumit left home at 9 am on Friday. Three hours later he heard that his son had been injured. “At the hospital, we found out he was dead. He had injuries on his chest, face and skull. Later the doctors told us he died of suffocation. It seems someone did that on purpose,” said Brahm Singh, sitting on a charpoy.
He said he did not know of any instance when his son was embroiled in a fight in the neighbourhood. “He was friendly with everyone. I don’t think he had gone to fight for Rajput pride. He was just caught in between and got killed,” he said.
Sumit’s brother returned on Sunday after consigning his ashes in the Ganga. His cousin Shiv Kumar said, “Sumit’s three-year-old son calls out for him. His wife cries. The lives of these people have been destroyed.”
During the funeral, many Dalits came and consoled Sumit’s father, Shiv said. “Our village has no history of Dalit-Thakur rivalry. The Shabbirpur incident shouldn’t have happened,” he added.