January 2021: Ravi was 16 years of age, as per the Aadhaar card.
His family lives in Sandal Kalan village of Sonepat district in Haryana. The Muslim girl’s family lives in village Tharia, around five kilometres away.
Ravi was the only earning member of the poor family besides his father Vedpal. Ravi has an elder brother, who suffers from a medical condition and stays at home. Ravi has four elders sisters; one of them goes to college while the rest are married.
Ravi used to work as a security guard at a factory and earn Rs 9,000 a month.
His body was found in the fields outside Tharia on the morning of 1 January, 2021.
He died in the hospital the next day. The first information report (FIR) was filed on the same day at Sonipat Sadar police station, on the complaint by Ravi’s cousin Rajendra.
The statement says that Ravi used to talk to a girl named Mubin from Tharia village. Around 8 pm on 31 December, he left home saying that he would wish Mubin on New Year’s Eve and return home.
Ravi went on a motorcycle with a friend from Sandal Kalan named Kulbeer. When Ravi did not return all night, his family went out to look for him. They eventually found his body around 7:30 am outside Tharia.
On way to the hospital, Ravi said he was beaten up by Mubin’s family members. He gave the names as Saddam, Naushad, Mehroof, Irshad and Armaan.
The statement further says that Mubin called up Ravi’s cousin Balram the next day (2 January) to say that she and Ravi were talking when the five men named as above arrived and started beating Ravi with rods and sticks. Kulbeer managed to flee from the spot, the statement says.
We have a recording of the call that Mubin made to Balram.
Mubin is heard sobbing and taking the names of the five men as the ones who assaulted Ravi. Amid sobs, Mubin is denying that it was she who made her family beat up Ravi and is repeatedly asking Balram to make her talk to Ravi, which suggests that she did not know about his death until then.
As per Ravi’s family, Mubin is a teenager.
Vedpal’s elder brother Rajbir said that Mubin’s family has sent her to her maternal uncle in Uttar Pradesh’s Kairana town. (Readers may remember that Kairana is the same town where the national human rights commission said in a 2016 report that the reported exodus of Hindu families was a reality.)
The FIR mentions the five men, who are all in their 20s, as accused.
They have been booked under IPC sections 148 (rioting), 149 (unlawful gathering) and 302 (murder).
Vedpal said that all the five men were arrested within a couple of days. He said he does not know where the case stands now, nearly three weeks later.
He said that Kulbeer, who could have given more details of the case and acted as an eyewitness, is “missing”. “His family must have sent him to a distant relative,” said Vedpal, who is a daily wager with no fixed job.
Vedpal belongs to Dhanak community, which is a Scheduled Caste in Haryana. Kulbeer belongs to Gujjar caste, members of which dominate the Sandal Kalan village.
Vedpal said that Ravi’s skull and face had several deep cut marks when he was found in the field.
The family immediately took him to the government district hospital, where doctors referred him to government-run PGI hospital in Rohtak.
Vedpal says that the doctors verbally told him that Ravi wouldn’t survive on the way to Rohtak and the family must take him to a private hospital.
No money in hand or bank, Vedpal rushed to a local moneylender in Sandal Kalan. He took a private loan of Rs 1 lakh at 3 per cent monthly interest. “Usually they charge even more,” said Vedpal.
His son lost, Vedpal is now reeling under this debt. The interest comes to Rs 3,000 a month, which Vedpal said is more than what he earns. “Ravi’s income used to sustain our family,” he said.
Vedpal and his wife Veermati said that Ravi never revealed anything to them about Mubin or his visits to Tharia.
Veermati said that had Ravi or Kulbeer told her anything about Mubin, she would have “thrashed” Ravi and made him stop talking to the girl. “We are different. They are Muslims. We are Dhanaks, Hindus. There is no connection,” she said.
Veermati kept sobbing and saying that she wishes Mubin’s family had handed Ravi to the police instead of beating him to death. “If they did not like Ravi talking to their daughter, they could have told us directly. They could have even gone to the police. Why kill him?” she said.
Vedpal said that no government official has visited them yet or given any compensation. He was unaware of the monetary compensation that district authorities are mandated to provide to him as a member of a Scheduled Caste.
These correspondents visited Tharia village, where residents said they did not know much about the incident.
A resident, on the condition of anonymity, said that we would not find any information as families of nearly all the accused are not in the village.