Updated: May 27, 2022 9:23:23 am
A SARI hanging from a ceiling fan, a cup and a glass on the floor with liquid spilled around them, and half-broken chapattis lying around — in these rest the clues to what transpired on the evening of Tuesday when police entered the house of Bachod’s Mehak Singh. Two days later, Singh’s family of six is down to two – Singh himself, and a son who is on the run.
On Thursday evening, Mehak Singh returned home from the hospital with the bodies of his wife and three daughters, all dead after consuming poison. “My entire family is wiped out due to police brutality… Police abused my wife and daughters and misbehaved with them. This humiliation forced them to take the extreme step,” Singh said.
While Swati, 18, died at a Meerut hospital Wednesday evening, sister Preeti, 16, and mother Anuradha, 45, passed away Thursday morning. Following protests and a blockade by villagers, District Magistrate Raj Kamal Yadav assured compensation of Rs 71 lakh.
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An FIR, including under IPC Section 306 (abetment of suicide), has been lodged by Mehak Singh against Chaprauli Police Station in-charge Naresh Pal. Also named are Kantilal and his sons Shakti, 23, and Raju, 20, who had filed a complaint against Singh, and who allegedly accompanied the police team Tuesday.
Hathras SP Neeraj Jadaun said they would take action against the police officials if needed following the investigation. “An FIR has been lodged and investigation handed over to the Crime Branch for a fair probe.”
Kantilal, who lives in the lane next to Mehak’s house in Bachod, is absconding, as are his sons and his wife. Naresh Pal could not be contacted.
Family members said the ordeal of Mehak Singh and family began on May 3 after Kantilal lodged an FIR, accusing Singh’s son Prince, 24, of kidnapping his daughter, 22, soon after the couple went missing together.
While Kantilal’s family is Dalit, Mehak is an OBC from iron-smith caste. While Mehak is a farm labourer, Kantilal’s family is employed in garment shops in Baraut town, around 9 km from the village.
According to Singh’s younger brother Sunil Panchal, police picked up their youngest brother Sanjay on May 13, detained him for three days and kept asking about the possible hideouts of the missing couple. “Sanjay was tortured at the police station and he can barely walk on his own now,” says Sunil. Police deny this.
On May 24 evening, Naresh Pal reached Singh’s house, with reportedly a woman constable and some villagers, asking about Prince. As per Singh’s FIR, he was not at home at the time. Sunil says: “The main gate of Mahek’s house was bolted from inside. So the policemen, along with the two sons of Kantilal, forcibly entered my house and used the roof to enter Mahek’s house after breaking the back door. Neither my brother nor his son were present. Police were not accompanied by any woman constable either. They beat the three women, repeatedly asking where Prince was hiding.”
He said Mahek’s wife Anuradha told them that she did not know where Prince was since the time he had left home. “She threatened that the family would consume poison if police did not stop harassing them, but police kept going. The three consumed insecticide meant for killing rats,” Sunil’s wife Mohini said.
Mahek said Thursday: “Police claim they were accompanied by a woman constable when they raided my house. This is a total lie.”
A neighbour, Sunil Sharma, said that since May 4, police would keep dropping in at Mahek’s home. They even moved to houses of nearby relatives for several days to avoid police, Sharma said.
Bachod village pradhan Vishal Bardhan said: “The family was living in acute poverty. Now none is left except the father, as the son is untraceable. This is the saddest incident in the village that I can recall. We demand that the family be helped financially and strict action be taken against those guilty, including police.”
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