On July 4, Anuj Kumar Harijan (21), left home in Saddupur village of UP’s Jaunpur district to find work in Gurgaon so he could send money to his family. “He used to work here (in the village) for a pandit who was getting his house built, but after construction stopped, he was left jobless,” Anuj’s maternal uncle Yogendra Kumar (36) said, sitting outside the hut that belongs to Anuj’s family.
The families of Anuj and Yogendra live in two huts built on 300 sq feet of land surrounded by pucca houses belonging to “pandits” (Brahmins).Inside, members of the Dalit family sat on Friday, mourning the young migrant worker who “had gone to the big city for a better life”.
Anuj was beaten to death by men armed with sticks and rods in Gurgaon’s Sector 37 on Monday. Police have said the men mistook Anuj and his brother-in-law Sanjay for people who had harassed a woman whom the men knew.
Sanjay (32), has said that is a made-up story, that they had done nothing to any woman, and that the men, who were in an SUV, had seemed enraged merely at the sight of migrant “Biharis”.
On Thursday, police in Gurgaon arrested the main accused Manjeet, a manager at a badminton academy that the woman attends.
Anuj’s last rites were performed on Wednesday in his village in the Baksa police station area, some 250 km from Lucknow. Yogendra said Anuj’s mother, 37-year-old Sunita Devi, still refuses to accept her son is no more. “She keeps repeating that her son will send her money as he promised when she last spoke to him on Sunday evening,” Yogendra, who works as a labourer in the village, said.
Anuj had been forced to give up studying after his father fell severely ill three years ago. “He dropped out of school in Class 12. His father had diabetes, and had to leave his truck driver’s job in Kolkata and return home. Anuj had no option but to start working. He had left the village to look for work for the first time two years ago, but had come back in six months. This time he did not come back,” said Sagar (20), a cousin who worked with Anuj in Gurgaon.
“We worked in the same factory. He made Rs 7,500 per month, which was more than double of what he could have made here in the village,” Sagar said. Sagar brought Anuj’s body back in a private ambulance that cost the family Rs 25,000.