Suicide by Haryana Govt’s Dalit Employee sparks protests #JusticeForIshwarSingh

Somaya Gupta

Civil Hospital, Jind, Haryana has become a site of protest for the last 48 hours where 400 people sit sloganeering to ask for Justice for Ishwar Singh. Ishwar Singh, from Jind, Haryana, a chamar by caste, was forced to commit suicide on 18th January, 2017 early morning due to the helplessness, hardships and humiliation that he felt due to the Brahminical police-CONFED officials-contractors nexus.

False corruption charges on Ishwar Singh

Ishwar Singh, a dalit employee, who served as a store keeper at The Haryana State federation of Consumers’ Cooperative Wholesale Stores Ltd. (CONFED), Jind for more than 35 years. After his retirement April ,2014, he was offered an extention and continued to work for the same. On 29th September, 2016, two trucks were spotted with a fake waybill in the name of ‘Hanuman Transport’ from Nagura to Bahadurgarh (Haryana) along with the original waybill in the name of ‘Balaji Transport’ from Julana to PDS depots in 5 villages around Jind. On 30th September, 2016, an FIR for this corruption case was filed by Dharampal, Inspector Food & Supply, Jind, in which Rakesh Kumar (Contractor, Balaji Transport), Ishwar Singh (store keeper), along with Kashmiri Lal (Inspector Food & Supply, Julana) and the two truck drivers were accused. The same day Ishwar Singh, Kashmiri Lal and the two drivers were arrested. Interestingly, Rakesh Kumar along with his son Sonu and his munshi Sushil got arrested only on 26th November, 2016, and Rakesh Kumar was never presented infront of anyone at any point of time. Sushil Kumar, who happens to be Rakesh Kumar’s munshi, was always intoduced as Rakesh Kumar (even by the DFSC Ashok Rawat) and it was only after this FIR that this fact became known to people. The main accusation on Ishwar Singh was that he was not an employee of CONFED, as there was a nexus between the SHO Julana (Ram Niwas), DFSC (Ashok Rawat) and the thekedaar (Rakesh Kumar). There were attempts made throughout to shield the thekedaar by the SHO and DFSC. Hence, Rakesh Kumar with the two others was arrested on 26th November, 2016 and got bail within two months.

Ishwar Singh was granted bail after 3 months of his arrest, and spent the whole month (till his demise) under a lot of stress. Deepak Sinhmar, son of Ishwar Singh says, “papa bohot tension mein rehte the wapis aane ke baad. Unki retirement ki party mein DFSC ne khud unki bohot zyada taareef ki thi, unki imaandaari ki, aur bola tha ki Ishwar Singh ki imaandaari ki wajah se hum inko retirement ke baad extention denge. Unko nahi laga ki veh itne powerful logon- SHO, DFSC- se lad payeinge. Unhone apne suicide note mein bhi likha hai ki kaise SHO ne 5 lakh paise khaaye, aur DFSC ne unko jhoote case mein fasaya aur zamaanat bhi nahi hone di 3 mahine tak.”

On 18th January, 2017 Ritu, Ishwar Singh’s daughter in law, saw him hanging to the ceiling at 6:30 am in the morning. His pulse could still be felt so he was taken to the hospital where the suicide note was found in his pocket by the family members.

Suicide note majorly explains how

Firstly, Ishwar Singh’s work was only to sign on the waybill after which, it is the contractor’s resposibility to ensure that the grains reach the assigned destination.

Secondly, DFSC was blatantly involved in introducing Sushil as Rakesh Kumar, and knew throughout that Sushil was forging Rakesh’s signature and faking his identity.

Thirdly, Sonu told Ishwar Singh that SHO Ram Niwas had asked for 5 Lakh Rupees which is why Sonu and Sushil were let scott free in the evening of the 30th September, 2016 while the other 4 were still arrested.

Fourthly, DFSC and thekedaar had a nexus which led to their ganging up against Ishwar Singh and Kashmiri Lal by falsely accusing the two of corruption.

Fifthly, the thekedaars used to stay at DFSC’s house and had close ties with the DFSC which could indicate towards their possible nexus.

Sixthly, DFSC refused to recognise Ishwar Singh as an employee and tried to resist the bail grant for 81 days in the court.

Ishwar Singh writes- “Mai ghar par aane ke baad bahut zyada pareshan ho gaya tha. Ghar jail se bhi bhattar lagne laga hai. Mujhe raat bhar neend bhi nahi aati. Logon se bilkul hi kat gaya hun. Ye sab DFSC ke karan hua, jisne thekedaaron ko bachane ke liye, mujhe aur Kashmiri  IFS ko jhoota fasaya. Jo bhi gehun depot par jata hai, wo sara ka sara thekedaar dwara bheja jata hai. Agar koi maal nahi jata, toh uski zimmedaari thekedaar ki hai. Ye sab DFSC Jind ke thekedaaron se saath-gaanth ke karan, hume badnaami ka dansh jhelna pad raha hai. Mere bete ne CONFED karyalaya Jind se RTI ke tehet jaankaari maangi thi jo zamanat ke liye zaruri thi, weh bhi DFSC ne nahi di kyunki usne mujhe apne karamchaari maanne se hi inkaar kar diya tha.”

Situation now

Dinesh Khapar, Ishwar Singh’s nephew has filed an FIR against Ashok Rawat- DFSC Jind, Haryana, Ram Niwas, SHO Julana, Haryana and Rakesh Kumar, thekedaar under section 306 and 34 of Indian Penal Code and section 3 SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The family along with 300-400 others have been sitting on a dharna infront of the Civil Hospital, Jind, Haryana refusing to take the body for cremation of Ishwar Singh until and unless the demands are met.

The demands are:-

  1. Immediately arrest the accused.
  2. Provide Ishwar Singh’s family with security.
  3. One member of Ishwar Singh’s family must be given a government job.
  4. A compensation of 50 lakh rupees must be given to the family.
  5. CBI must be involved in the investigation process.
  6. Ishwar Singh’s pending dues, other benefits and allowances must be given immediately.

Several attempts to convince the protestors to call off the dharna have been made by DC and SP at Jind and ther political representatives and influential people. Suspension order of Ashok Rawat, DFSC Jind yesterday evening (19.01.2017) was one such attempt. Today (20.1.2017) morning, BJP MLA Prem Lata also came to convince people by making farcical promises and to draw the line between us (people of Jind) and the “outsiders” (people who have come in solidarity). However, the people have given out a clear message to everyone that it is only when the demands are met, that they will step back. Even though there were enough grounds for an arrest warrant, the SP and DC insisted Dinesh Khapar to give his statement to the judicial magistrate (under Section 164, CrPC) to substantiate the case.

Another institutional murder of a Dalit

Dinesh Khapar mentioned several times while narrating the course of events, that Ishwar Singh, despite being recognised as one of the most honest employees in CONFED, was trapped in the false charges because he belonged to the Dalit (chamar) community. Ishwar Singh was forced into committing suicide because he felt helpless infront of the strong, high handed nexus between the police, CONFED officials and contractors. It is not the first time that caste-based discrimination and atrocities have led to an institutional murder.

Several questions and contradictions come forth if we closely look at the case. If Ishwar Singh was not an employee (as claimed by the DFSC), then how could he be accused of the corruption charges? If he wasn’t an employee, then how could the DFSC (despite knowing) allow him to work at the warehouse for the last 2 years? The police did not take more than 24 hours to arrest Ishwar Singh and the others in September, however, even after 48 hours, influential people are trying to make promises for the correct actions to be taken. It has been 3 months that the RTI filed by Dinesh to prove Ishwar Singh as an employee of CONFED has not been answered.

The Chief Minister of Haryana, Manohar Lal Khattar is going to visit Jind tomorrow (21.01.2017) to inaugurate city marathon while 400 people await Justice for Ishwar Singh.

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