Haryana: 42-year-old dies near farmers' protest site, family alleges murder
A 42-year-old man from Jhajjar district in Haryana died due to burn injuries he had sustained earlier this week near the farmers' protest site at Tikri border. His family alleges that four men associated with the protest had set him on fire, while the farmers' association said the man killed himself over personal conflicts. Police has arrested one accused and further probe is underway.
Mukesh Lal, the deceased, was a bus driver from Kasar village in Jhajjar. His brother, Madan Lal, said Mukesh was not associated with the farmers' agitation and would go near the protest site only for evening strolls. He claimed there was no conflict in the family and his brother was killed as part of a conspiracy by farmers to portray him as a "martyr."
"Four men associated with the farmers' agitation sprinkled petrol on him and killed him," Madan told ThePrint. He said the farmers "wanted another scapegoat for their protest," adding, "It was a conspiracy to show him a martyr for their cause."
Madan had filed a police complaint against four men, based on which a First Information Report (FIR) was registered at the Sector 6 Police station, Bahadurgarh. Cops have arrested Krishan, a resident of Jind, and identified another accused named Sandeep. The process of identifying two other accused is underway, according to the Bahadurgarh Police. The FIR has been filed under IPC Section 302 (Murder).
Police said there was an altercation between Mukesh, the victim, and the four accused, after which he was set ablaze. "Investigations have revealed that the victim and the accused were drinking liquor together on Wednesday evening, when they got into an argument that escalated into a fight," said Station House Officer, Inspector Jaibhagwan, according to The Indian Express.
According to Madan's complaint, Mukesh had told the village sarpanch he did not try to kill himself. "I did not burn myself, there was a man in white clothes, named Krishan, who poured oil on me and burnt me," he had said, according to the complaint. This statement would be treated as Mukesh's dying declaration, Inspector Jaibhagwan has said, according to ThePrint.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of the farmers who have been protesting since late last year, said it was a case of suicide. The SKM added its volunteers had tried to douse the fire and save Mukesh's life. Calling for a fair investigation into the incident, the association said it was another attempt by the BJP-JJP government to "slander" the farmers' agitation.
However, in a video released by another farmers' association, Mukesh, in a severely charred state, was asked by a man if he had hurt himself and why. Mukesh purportedly replied, "I did it because I have been upset with my wife and family." The video was also shared by Swaraj India founder Yogendra Yadav. "This video nails all the lies being spread against farmers."
Leaders of the BJP have slammed the farmers' protest in view of the incident. "This is not a movement, it is a crime," Sambit Patra of the party tweeted yesterday. Thousands of farmers, from states like Punjab, Haryana, and UP, have been camping at Delhi's borders to protest against three agricultural laws, passed last year. They have demanded a complete withdrawal of the laws.