The people of Nohar city of Hanumangarh District of Rajasthan have been in struggle to have the guilty of ChakRajasar murder case punished for the past three years. Mazdoor Ekta Lehar correspondent spoke to Guruji Hanuman Prasad Sharma, former President of the Rajasthan Teacher’s Union and Vice President of the All India Council of Lok Raj Sangathan. Excerpts from the interview are given below.
MEL: When and where did this murder take?
Hanuman Prasad Sharma (HPS): The ChakRajasar village is located on the bypass road South-west of Nohar. On the night of 21 June 2009, LalchandKhati (32), his wife Saroj (30) and two innocent daughters, Nish (5) and Simran (3) were brutally murdered with sharp weapons. Lal chand Khati used to work in a furniture shop to earn his livelihood. The third daughter, Anisa (8 years) was in her grandparent’s house in Haryana.
MEL: What did the police find out?
HPS: Police investigations have not yielded any results. The method adopted by the police for this investigation is extremely dubious. The murderers had covered the corpses of the four victims with a sheet and placed them on the bed. Police did not disperse the crowd assembled there and let precious evidence get destroyed. There was no confidentiality in the investigation conducted by the police. It appears that the police wanted the evidence to be destroyed.
MEL: But why was the youth Rajkumar accused in this case?
HPS: Rajkumar was deliberately made the accused in order to liquidate the movement demanding punishment for those guilty of these murders. People were very angry with the police for its indifference towards solving the case. There was a lot of dissatisfaction in the town. There were public protests and hunger strikes going on. In order to protect the real culprits, an innocent was arbitrarily picked up and presented in the court as the accused.
MEL: Why are the people suspecting foul play?
HPS: First of all, the post-mortem report has indicated that a sharp weapon was used. Of the four axes recovered as murder weapons only one had blood stains and the rest were clean. How can one person wield four axes to murder four people?
Secondly, there was only one set of foot prints leading from the back of Rajkumar’s house to the place where in axes werefound. Whereas there were four sets of foot prints from the neighbourhood of the victims house to the house where the axes were recovered from. One of the set of foot prints is for someone wearing a heeled shoe, whereas the remaining three are for persons wearing slippers. Police has accused only one person.
Thirdly, there were no fingerprints of the accused youth, Rajkumar, recovered from the blood-soaked clothes of the victims, recovered axes and other items. When the investigations were carried out by SLF and sniffer dogs, the accused was presentat the site of the incident. The sniffer dogs neither showed any special interest towards the accused nor went towards his house. The accused had agreed to subject himself to a narco test and even this test does not implicate him.
MEL: How did this struggle begin?
HPS: In the beginning, the father of the victim died begging for justice from the higher authorities. Subsequently, various people’s organisation including the Lok Raj Sangathan came together in the ChakRajasar Hatya kand Sangharsh Samiti (CRHSS) to lead the struggle.
Since 26th March 2012, there has been an indefinite fast and relay fast by women in front of the sub-divisional office, to demand a CBI investigation of the case. People sitting on the indefinite fast are forcibly picked up by the police and admitted to the hospital. Other people promptly take their place and continue the indefinite fast.
There have been four bandhs in Nohar so far. The town was brought to a halt. Fast is going on. Therefore, the Chief Minister had to agree to an investigation by CID-CB in place of CBI. In the meantime, with the movement for justice raging, the Sectional Commissioner of Bikaner visited Nohar and took the written and oral testimonies of about 80 people. However, so far they have not found any clue leading to the culprits.
On 21st June 2012, on the third anniversary of the murder, there was a condolence meeting organised in Nohar. Activists of all the social and political organisations were present in this meeting. Once again the demand for a CBI enquiry was re-affirmed.
On 2nd July, the CRHSS demonstrated in front of the Jaipur Secretariat with the MP Kirodi Lal Meena and hundreds of women and children. A delegation of the protestors met the Chief Administrative Secretary and the Home Secretary. An assurance was given that the District Collector of Hanumangarh was would be instructed to provide financial and educational assistance to Anisa. At the same time, another assurance was given that if police officers at the DIG level are unable to apprehend the culprits within 4 to 5 days, then the Chief Minister would be requested to ask the Centre to institute a CBI enquiry.
So far we have accomplished only this that a DIG level team of officials has been dispatched to Nohar on 4th July for immediate enquiry and the investigation is going on.
MEL: What are your demands?
HPS: We are demanding that just as the children were adopted by the government in the case of Bhanwari Devi murder case, in the same way, baby girl Anisa should be adopted by the government, and that the culprits should be punished after the CBI enquiry.
MEL: What kinds of people are involved in this murder case in the opinion of the people?
HPS: The people behind the murders are politically powerful. This is the reason why there has been every attempt to protect the murderers. People are suspecting those representatives from Chak who are avoiding associating with this struggle for justice. People are getting more and more angry with the government’s avoidance to apprehend the culprits.