Sonbhadra killings: ‘He did not like plain rice and dal, so I had cooked sabzi that day. He never returned…’https://indianexpress.com/article/india/sonbhadra-killings-he-did-not-like-plain-rice-and-dal-so-i-had-cooked-sabzi-that-day-he-never-returned-5839823/

Sonbhadra killings: ‘He did not like plain rice and dal, so I had cooked sabzi that day. He never returned…’

The Sunday Express meets families of those who died in the firing in Umbha village. They recall the last day.

BSP chief Mayawati, meanwhile, took on the BJP government in the state and accused “negligence” on their part for the “massacre” in Sonbhadra.

Rajesh (35)

Youngest among three siblings, Rajesh had left home on Wednesday morning without eating breakfast — wife Pratibha, 32, said he was to return home for lunch. “He didn’t like plain rice and dal, so I had cooked sabzi that day. I didn’t know he wouldn’t return…” she said.

The couple have three children — a 15-year-old daughter and two sons, aged six and four.

Ashok Kumar (35)

Ashok was the child most loved by his parents among the three siblings, his sister, Indravati, 38, said. “Growing up, he was always the one most favoured at home,” she recalled wistfully. Their second brother, Inderjeet is a small-time farmer — like Ashok was.

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Ashok’s wife Pushpa Devi is now left to raise their three daughters and two sons — aged between 12 and four years.

Ram Dhar (60)

That Wednesday, Ram Dhar’s wife Atwariya, 56, reached the spot of firing by chance. He was dead by then. “He left around 10 am after a morning meal of baingan (eggplants) and roti. I was grazing cows when I suddenly heard firing… It was far from the village,” she said.

Their children Sukwari, 32, and Subhashi, 26, are both married and have their own children.

Durgavati (54)

Durgavati’s husband died five years ago, after which she became the head of the household. Her sons Chandra, 32, and Manu, 35, are married and have children. Chandra said Durgavati was shot in the head and on foot.

In the morning, when she left home, “I asked her where she was going. She said some lafda (a skirmish) has happened, and that she has to go see what it was and speak (to the people).”

Sukhvanti (40)

Sukhvanti’s two children – Sapna, 4, and Preeti, 2 — are now being looked after by neighbors and relatives. Her brother-in-law Ram Bali said he does not know how the two will grow up without their mother.

Ram Sundar (50)

“My last conversation with him that day was about foodgrain,” Ram Sundar’s eldest son Lallu Singh, 23, said. “He was obsessed with farming and had told me that I should store grains more carefully after some went rotten recently.”Singh, who has four siblings, said their father loved them more than he loved himself.

Jawahir (48)

Jawahir’s eldest child, Srikumari, 26, said she regrets not talking to her father for a while. “Who knew he would leave…. I was at my in-laws’ home and was busy there. I hadn’t spoken to him for nearly a month,” she said.

Srikumari has four other siblings, aged 13 upward.

Basmatiya (45)

Her son Babbu Singh, 29, said he wouldn’t have let her go out to the field that day had he been home. “I had gone to a nearby village for some work,” he rued.

Husband Nand Lal and Basmatiya have four daughters and a son, aged between 35 and 10.

Ram Chandra (50)

After his wife, Rakhmeena, died 10 years ago, Ram Chandra raised their children — now aged between 27 and 16 — on his won.“Our father had fixed the wedding of our youngest sister (Anita, 21) to a man from Madhya Pradesh — we don’t even know who he is. Let’s see what happens, now that he has gone…” eldest son, Shiv Kumar, 27, said.

Ashok (34)

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“He didn’t eat before leaving that day. We had a small tiff that day. I had cooked brinjal for lunch to make up for that fight. Now, there’s regret I’ll survive with for the rest of my life,” wife Laldai, 30, said. She will have to raise their children, aged 10 and 12.