Satbir Singh, 60, of Gannaur was yet to change his bloodstained clothes Tuesday evening. Twenty-four hours earlier, he held his son, Rajesh, in his arms as he battled for life after being hit by a bullet. He rued how Rajesh — a postgraduate and a primary teacher — was just an innocent passer-by.
In the same town, Jaipal Pahal (50) grieved for his 24-year-old son, Sandeep. But other than their caste and grief, what connected the two men was their firm belief that the Jat stir was uncalled for and the cause unjustified.
“He died in my arms… He left home at 12.30 pm to see the newborn child of his sister, Sonia. She had given birth five days ago, but he could not visit her. He took a shorter route and slowed down his bike near Ladsauli as gunshots were being fired… he was hit by a bullet in his neck… He gave me his wallet and his ATM card and told me to take care of his four-year-old son,” said Satbir, recalling how a stranger called him to the spot after which Rajesh was rushed for medical help.
Questioning the quota stir, he said: “I was a farmer all my life. My three children are well educated. My two sons are postgraduates and Rajesh was a primary school teacher. We have nothing to do with reservation. We don’t want reservation. The agitation happened because my son was to die.”
Grieving the loss of his 24-year-old a few kilometres away, Jaipal Pahal said: “All my life, I was so busy that I never got time to think about aarakshan. And today, it claimed my son.”
On Monday afternoon, Sandeep was on his way to pick up Jaipal, a construction site manager in Delhi’s Azadpur, from Kondli border after reports suggested that roads had opened up.
According to a friend, Sandeep alias Sunny Singh abandoned his bike and ran inside a nearby house to escape harm. However, he was hit by a bullet while he was standing on the roof of the house. He died on the spot.
“The father kept calling him on his mobile until an unknown person answered and told him that his son was no more,” said Arun Pahal, Sandeep’s cousin.