A 35-year-old Dalit man in UP’s Rampur Bela village was attacked and murdered in his hut outside the village. On the morning of June 18, when the villagers noticed the burning hut and had rushed to the spot, they had found Vinay Saroj’s body, tied to his cot and burned to death.
Vinay’s motorcycle had been charred too. The villagers had initially suspected that it was an attack by people of a particular community because, on the previous night, Vinay had allegedly had an altercation with them. However, Vinay’s family has disputed any such allegation. They had stated that Vinay was watching the match with his family and he had not mentioned any such scuffle.
Swarajya Magazine’s journalist Swati Goel Sharma had recently published her ground report from the village, attempting to shed some light on the still unsolved crime.
As per Swati’s report, Vinay was brutally murdered, and the sheer brutality of the crime has surprised the villagers and even medical professionals for the amount of violence involved.
The villagers say that Vinay’s body was dismembered, his legs and arms chopped off. The body was also reportedly tied with metal wires to the cot. Vinay’s brother Om Prakash states that he suspects even his throat was slit. He recalls a belt being tied to Vinay’s throat. “In the place of his stomach, I saw only ash”, adds Om Prakash.
Station house officer (SHO) of Patti police station Akhilesh Pratap Singh has been quoted by Sharma saying that the police has filed a case against unknown men. He said that investigation is on and the police have so far detained two men for questioning. These include Vinay’s partner in his small pig-farming business, one Prem Saroj. Prem also happens to be the brother of current village Pradhan (Head), also named Om Prakash Saroj.
The victim’s family, however, dismisses the possibility of Prem’s role in the case, saying he was like family.
Vinay’s family, on the other hand, suspects the role of some revellers in an under construction farmhouse about a hundred meters away. They claim that on the night of the murder, some men had partied till late in the night in the “upcoming farmhouse with meat, mutton and alcohol”. They cite several reasons for their suspicion, that are also supported by other villagers who visited the family on Tuesday.
The reasons for Vinay’s family’s suspicion are as follows:
- The wire used to tie Vinay up is the same as the wire found at the building site
- It is not possible that Vinay was getting attacked in such a brutal way and the revellers in the farmhouse did not hear anything.
- The blood stains could be traced towards the farmhouse.
- Two men who are related to the partners in the farmhouse are criminal-minded.
However, Vinay’s family has no clue or motive to ascertain to the unknown revellers in the farmhouse. They also claim that Vinay had no enmity with anyone and they are unable to fathom why any person would murder him in such a brutal way.
Regarding the family’s suspicion on the revellers in the farmhouse, SHO, Patti police station has reportedly stated that he is yet to receive any such complaint.
Residents of Bela Rampur say that the village has not seen such a gruesome crime after 1998-99 when, they recall, a family of five was killed by yet unknown killers. As per the Pradhan, almost half the population in Bela Rampur are Dalits and they have never witnessed caste or communal strife in the past. Vinay’s family also belongs to a Scheduled Caste.
Vinay was the eldest of four brothers. He is survived by his wife and a 3-year-old son. Vinay also had a previous marriage, which had ended up in divorce because his first wife was mentally not sound.
Some local politicians have visited the family and have offered help. But, with the police still clueless in the case, Vinay’s family are very far from any answers regarding the identity and motive of the killers who have snatched a young life in such a barbaric manner.