On Sunday, the 80 odd hours long hunger strike of a mother ended as the body of her son was taken to the mortuary. Jitendra Khateek was finally cremated in the Chinandiyo ki jali cremation ground at around noon.
The 25-year-old youth of the Scheduled Caste community had died in police custody on Thursday. The cremation was only done after the community members accepted the terms of the state government. The terms included ₹25 Lakh as compensation, a government job and independent investigation. The state government machinery seems to have succeeded in delivering at least two of the three as 'justice' to the family members.
The family and community leaders had refused to take the body of Jitendra Khateek for post mortem till adequate compensation was promised and a job appointment letter was given to Champalal, the younger brother of Jitendra. As soon as this happened, the last rites of the mortal remains were carried out.
As the cremation concluded, around 5 km away in the State Circuit House, 2-3 convoys were being prepared to move out. The Aditional Director General of police Ravi Prakash Meherda and Range IG Navjyoti Gogoi who had set up camp in Barmer since the past three days were going back to Jaipur and Jodhpur respectively. 'Our job here is done', the officers were heard talking to each other as they left.
Both the ADG and Range IG also claimed that the death had, in fact, happened in the hospital and not in police custody. "The death of Jitendra had happened upon him being brought to the hospital. It was illegal confinement, we have accepted that. Steps will be taken to bring those officers to book," Meherda told Republic tv.
On the other hand, Gogoi stated there might be outreach programs upon being asked if this was a behavioural problem of the Rajasthan Police to take custodial death very casually. "I accept that more needs to be done on this front. We will go to police officers and educate them further so that these kinds of incidents cease to happen. We need to educate and sensitize our officers," Gogoi stated.
While both senior officers were leaving the Barmer city which had become a much talked about issue in Rajasthan Assembly as well. The general wonderment was who will carry out the investigation against Former SP Sharad Chaudhary, SHO Deep Singh. For this, another enquiry is being carried out by Additional Superintend of Police, CID-CB Ratanlal Bhargav who has also come from Jodhpur to carry out the investigation. Bhargav, however, had a peculiar perspective on the slow investigation, "It is because of the family members that the investigation is going slow. They first refused to take the body, did drama, then they also today refused to give their statements because they are grieving. The agencies are working all day and night to bring justice to the family," Bhargav said at 4 pm sitting in Circuit House stating that he was done for the day. And upon being asked about speaking to the former and suspended SP and SHO he smiled and said, 'No, I'll speak to them as the investigation goes further.'
The doctors of the Government Hospital of Barmer were also tight-lipped about the medical reports and autopsy of the 25-year-old Jitendra. A three-member panel of Doctors was made to carry out the general autopsy of the youth. The findings, were unusual as stated by the doctors themselves. According to the medical team, not a single wound was found on Jitendra's body. "We carried out a thorough check. Not a single wound was found on the body. There was also a probably cardiac problem that he was suffering from. The heart of the deceased was at least 1.5 times larger than a normal heart. Which indicates there was some cardiac problem. However the proper result will be determined after FSL report comes out in 15-20 days," said Dr AK Soni, one of the panel members who carried out the autopsy.
Congress MLA from Barmer, Mewaram Jain, who had been mediating between the family and government of Rajasthan also stated that the issue was resolved. Jain had been seen running pillar to post since the past one week and making rounds of the hospital where hundreds of people of Jitendra's community were sitting in protest. The MLA didn't miss the opportunity of praising the Congress Government for taking swift action. "Have you ever seen this before. That, in under 24 hours of assuring a job, the appointment letter was in the hands of the victims kin?" he quipped. However, had no reasoning or answer for the rising cases of atrocities on Dalit and other minority communities. "Ashok Gehlot's government is really strong and efficient. He has also condemned these kinds of atrocities and has acted decisively and swiftly.''