Dalit Labourer Burnt Alive in Bhilwara, Police Probe Suicide Angle

Burnt body of a Dalit labourer in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district has sent jitters within the community.

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Dalit Labourer Burnt Alive in Bhilwara, Police Probe Suicide Angle
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On 2 March, photos of a man who was allegedly burnt alive were being shared by Dalit activists on their Facebook timeline while few student activists in Delhi forwarded posts related to the incident via WhatsApp.

At least two photos that were being circulated spoke volumes about the ghastly crime committed on 1 March 2019 in Bjiolia Kalan village of Bhilwara district (Rajasthan). A 60-year-old Dalit labourer, Gangaram Balai’s badly burnt body was found tied to a tree.

Photos showed Gangaram’s body had been burnt beyond recognition, with thick wires around his waist tied to a tree.

His entire body was covered with black soot and ash could be seen in the perimeter around the tree.

A Dalit labourer, Gangaram Balai’s burnt body was found on 1 March 2019 in Bhilwara’s Bjiolia Kalan village.
(Photo Courtesy: Jatin Goraya/Accessed by The Quint)

What We Know About the Victim

Gangaram Balai used to work as a gardener at a mining company. His nephew Madan Lal told The Quint that Gangaram was employed with the company for more than 20 years.

The stone mine where Gangaram was employed as a gardener is owned by a local Congress leader, reported BBC Hindi.

Work required Gangaram to stay away from his family. Gangaram’s extended family used to live in Itmariya village of Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district.

File photo of Gangaram Balai whose burnt body was recovered from Bhilwara’s Bjiolia village on 1 March 2019.
(Photo Courtesy: Madan Lal/Accessed by The Quint)

The family is not sure if Gangaram had a personal enmity with anyone at his workplace or in his village. His nephew Madan Lal told The Quint in a telephonic interview:

“He was a simple man with good nature. We used to talk every fifteen days. We don’t know if he (Gangaram) had enmity with anyone.”
Madan Lal (Victim’s nephew)

Gangaram belonged to the Balai community which comes under the Scheduled Caste category.


No Arrests, Police Probing the Suicide Angle

Baldev Singh, sub inspector at the Bjiolia police station, told The Quint that the police had recovered a suicide note near the site where Gangaram’s body was found.

“A hand-written note has been recovered from the victim’s shirt lying 10-15 feet away from the site of incident. We are still probing the matter.”
Baldev Singh, sub inspector, Bjiolia police station

Singh also confirmed that they have also recovered victim’s mobile phone from the same spot where the suicide note was found. While no one has been arrested, Singh said that they are questioning few suspects.

Screenshot of the FIR registered in Gangaram Balai’s case.
(Photo provided to The Quint by victim’s nephew Madan Lal)

Why is the Family Unhappy with Police Investigation

The police have registered a FIR under section 302 IPC for murder. According to victim’s nephew, Madan Lal, sub inspector Baldev Singh had come to their home on 7 March 2019.

The family was informed about the suicide note in which Gangaram has said that he was concerned about his daughter’s marriage.

Madan Lal counters the police claim about suicide note as his uncle Gangaram was an illiterate. How can the police recover a suicide note from a man who could neither read nor write?

Relatives mourning the sudden and brutal death of Gangaram Balai who used to work as a gardener at a mining company in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district.
(Photo Courtesy: Jatin Goraya/Accessed by The Quint)

Madan Lal also told The Quint that his uncle was unmarried thus, making the police version about daughter look like a piece of fiction.

Gangaram’s family does not seem to be satisfied with the way investigation is being handled.

“We want the truth to come out,” says Madan Lal as he demands accountability on part of the Rajasthan police.


Social Activist Rules Out Property Dispute

Social activist Bhanwar Meghvanshi who met with Gangaram’s family on 5 March 2019 rules out property dispute as a likely cause of Gangaram’s brutal death.

“There was no dispute regarding property. It’s a murder case. There is no precedent of Gangaram having an argument with anyone.”
Bhanwar Meghvanshi, Social Activist
Social activist Bhanwar Meghvanshi (third from left) who met with Gangaram’s family on 5 March 2019 rules out property dispute as the reason behind this gruesome crime.
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook/ Bhanwar Meghvanshi

As per the 2016 data by the National Crime Records Bureau, Rajasthan comes second after Madhya Pradesh in terms of atrocities against Scheduled Castes.

Though there is ambivalence regarding caste angle in the case, Meghvanshi admits that instances of friction between the Scheduled Castes and other dominant castes in the area are common.

“Most of the cases of atrocities against Dalits are related to the Balai community. In the midst of their aspiration to climb up the social ladder, there are regular instances of friction such as violence over riding a horse during marriage procession.”
Bhanwar Meghvanshi, social activist

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