“Rahul wanted to join the Indian Army. He was even preparing for the physical test, but he was not aware he would be killed by a bullet of the army,” said Sachin Dangi, younger brother of 21-year-old Rahul Dangi who was allegedly killed in army firing during the Jat agitation for reservation in Rohtak.
Hundreds of people gathered at Rahul’s native village Madina in Rohtak district on Wednesday morning, waiting for the body expected to arrive five days after the death in the first firing incident on the Rohtak-Delhi road during the agitation in the city.
Most of the youngsters assembled for the funeral were not sure whether their demand for reservation was accepted, but said the killings were not expected.
“I don’t think the government will give us reservation, but we have lost our friend who was very keen to join the Indian army and used to practise at the Rohtak sports complex after college,” said Ashok, Rahul’s friend.
A student of BA second year at Jat College Rohtak, Rahul was the second of three sons of farmer Ram Kumar, who tills three acres of land along with his eldest jobless and unmarried son Naveen to feed the family.
Sachin, the youngest brother, is pursuing a JBT course and says he wants a government job for the needs of his family. “The protest was for reservation and not for the killings, as a large number of educated youths are unemployed and unmarried,” he says.
The villagers say they plan to construct a memorial on the outskirts of the village in Rahul’s memory.
Similar is the story of 25-year-old Pardeep Rathee of Bran village in Rohtak. According to family members, Pardeep, who studied up to graduation, was found dead in Rohtak city on Saturday. Family members were called by police to identify the body.
“Pardeep went to take part in the protest peacefully in a tractor-trolley with village elders on Saturday morning and we found him dead the next day at the mortuary,” said Pardeep’s elder brother Sandeep, adding the police registered a case of murder against unidentified persons.
“The government has not given us reservation yet and it is just an announcement. But I can say one thing that reservation has killed our brothers and sons,” said Sandeep, who is unmarried at 30 and has five acres of farmland, inadequate, he says, to fulfil the needs of the family.