Jealousy and caste hatred in Haryana's village of grisly murder

FPFamily and relatives of Jaimal Kumar, a 17-yr-old Dalit who was found dead on Wednesday. GAJENDRA YADAV

Within their own caste, the family of 17-year-old Jaimal Kumar faced jealousy, festering over several years because they had done well for themselves. Outside their caste, they faced hostility because they were a Dalit family in the predominantly upper caste Devsar village.

Jealousy and caste hostility combined in macabre fashion to snatch Jaimal away on Tuesday night, believes the family.

Early on Wednesday, Jaimal's father got a call from police saying his son had been found dead in a car. Jaimal had been allegedly tied to a tree and the car the same one that he was found in rammed repeatedly into his body. The accused: a Dalit and an upper caste Rajput.

At 9.30 pm on Tuesday night, Jaimal told his father Rajpal that he was going to meet two friends, 23-year-old Praveen Singh, a Rajput, and Kuldeep Kumar, 18, from their own caste. Wary of the simmering animosity, Rajpal advised Jaimal not to go. But his son insisted.

"I thought the fight was between the elders of the community. Jaimal would tell me that caste did not matter, and I wanted him to live a life free of fear. But I made a mistake. Early the next morning, he was found dead," Rajpal said.

In his complaint to the police, Rajpal has narrated an incident from over a year ago.

"On December 4, 2011, my brother's son (Jaimal's cousin) Veervan was getting married. We had arranged for Veervan to be brought to the mandap on an elephant. The Rajputs in the village took offence. They said we had no right to use an elephant, which was a Rajput symbol of regality. They put a knife to Veervan's throat and we had to send the elephant back. Praveen's family was involved. I was the complainant in the police case, and they had been pressuring me to withdraw ever since. Things have been on the boil since then," Rajpal said.

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