Even before day broke, hundreds of people started gathering outside 19-year-old Yogesh Kumar Jaatav’s residence on Tuesday.
Kumar — hardworking and selfmade — had been something of a hero in his northeast Delhi neighbourhood. On Sunday, the responsible brother, the loyal friend, was tortured for hours, brutalised and finally electrocuted to death, allegedly by his girlfriend Asha Saini’s family. Saini was murdered as well. Their bodies were discovered on Monday.
“He was like a son and brother to most of us, so why shouldn’t we mourn his death like he was our own flesh and blood?” asked Narender Singh (45), one of Yogesh’s neighbours.
For most hailing from lower middle-class families like his own, Yogesh was more than an inspiration.
“After working odd jobs for close to five years, Yogesh bhaiyya had finally been able to purchase a second-hand Maruti Suzuki Van a month ago,” said 15-year-old Deepak Daima.
“The first thing he did after buying the car was to take as many children from our colony — including me — for a ride on the Ring Road.”
Jaatav, a chauffeur, was reportedly due to drive a neighbourhood family on a trip to Nainital on Monday morning.
“Sadly, he didn’t return from Swaroop Nagar,” Daima said.
Shortly after his mother Malti’s death, eight-year-old Yogesh —desperate for money— started running small errands for wholesale vegetable sellers at the market near his house.
It is here that he would set eyes on Asha Saini nine years later.
“Maya, Asha’s mother ran a small grocery shop at the wholesale market. She used to visit Maya there. That’s where he saw Asha for the first time,” recalled Mukesh (28), Yogesh’s cousin.
Even as the bond between the two grew stronger with each meeting, a discerning Yogesh made it a point to keep anyone from getting wind of their relationship for two years.
“He was a very responsible boy. To keep his and Asha’s family from feeling disappointed or cross in any way, he made it a point to keep her as far away from his house as possible. She never set foot in this street despite their affair,” said his aunt, Debshri (40).
Meanwhile, Asha’s aunt, Rani Singh (42) expressed her disgust for the step that her younger sister Maya had taken.
“I have two sons. While the elder one, Rakesh (20) is married to a girl from the same caste, I won’t stop my younger son Chintu (18) from marrying a girl from another caste if he loves her.”