Bengali Migrant Worker Dies Under Mysterious Circumstances in Rajasthan

Though the police have ruled his death a suicide, Sakher Ali’s family and neighbours insist he was murdered. The incident, however, is not believed to have any communal dimension.

Sakher Ali. Credit: Special arrangement

Sakher Ali. Credit: Special arrangement

Jaipur: Less than two months after a migrant labourer from Bengal, Mohammad Afrazul, was brutally murdered in Rajsamand district of Rajasthan on December 6 on the suspicion that he was in love with a Hindu woman, another Bengali worker was found dead under mysterious circumstance in Jaipur’s Shastri Nagar on January 16.

Sakher Ali’s body was found only a couple of hours after Sudamapuri locality witnessed a heated argument in the closely-packed flat that the 38-year-old shared with 20 others.

Although Afrazul’s murder, by Shambhulal Regar, was evidently a hate crime,  Ali’s death – even if eventually established as a killing – is not believed to be product of communal animus.

“That evening, Najimul, who also lives in that flat, hurriedly came to me and said that Sakher had drunk acid. Within two minutes, we were inside the room where he was lying dead. His body had no clothes, his left eye and arm were burnt and there was blood under his nose. This created doubt in our minds,” Shah Alam, a migrant labourer from Malda who informed Sakher’s family about his death, told The Wire.

“I was told that he was drunk but I didn’t notice any alcohol bottles anywhere. A boy standing among the large crowd gathered outside the house told me that there had been an argument between the roommates just hours before Sakher died,” Alam said.

None of the Sakher’s roommates have returned to the flat after the incident.

Ek bhi ladka log wapas ni aaya hai plot par. Sab bhaag gaye hai Sakher ko maar kar. Police ne ek se bhi poochtach nahi ki, sirf bahar ke logo ko pakad ke lekar gayi (None of his roommates returned to the flat. They escaped after killing Sakher. The police hasn’t interrogated any of his roommates but has picked up those who didn’t even live in that flat),” Sakher’s elder brother Zakir told The Wire.

“The police badly beat my elder brother Bhailu, who lived in the same room with Sakher, and told him to admit that his brother died of acid burns only, nothing else,” he added.

The flat Sakher Ali shared with 20 other labourers. Credit: Shruti Jain/The Wire

In fact, the owner of the house, Abdul Latif, said he had no idea that so many labourers had been living in his house. “I had rented this house to a contractor named Babul who further sublet it to the migrant labourers. I wasn’t present in the area that evening, I only came when the police called,” he said. “The migrant labourers are not permanent. Sometimes, they live for years and sometimes leave in a week.”

Meanwhile, the police have maintained that the incident is a suicide and not a murder. “Some unknown person called on Tuesday evening to report a death in Sudamapuri area. When the police team reached the spot, the body was already in the ambulance. The post-mortem suggests that he died of acid burn injuries. We are now waiting for the forensic science laboratory report,” said sub-inspector Virendra Singh.

“We have registered a case under section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (unnatural death). However, the doctor told us that it’s difficult to believe that he managed to drink such a large amount of acid on his own,” Singh added.

Sakher’s family, from Swarupnagar village, under Chanchol police station of Malda, has alleged that his roommates have gone to Udaipur. Coincidently, Sakher himself came back from Udaipur a fortnight ago.

“Sakher was not in town for two months. He had gone to work in Udaipur under some catering contractor. Soon after he came back, I left for Malda on January 9. I even have a ticket to prove that,” Babul, a contractor who lived in the flat with Sakher told The Wire.

Babul’s brother-in-law, Sahib, who also lived in that flat, has been missing since the incident. “I’ve been trying to reach Sahib but we have no idea where he is,” Babul said. “We were told that all of them are hiding in Udaipur. If even one of them will be captured, the whole mystery will be cleared if the police desire it,” added Zakir.

Sakher Ali's family in Malda. Credit: Special arrangement

Sakher Ali’s family in Malda. Credit: Special arrangement

Even the neighbours refuse to believe that Sakher committed suicide or drank acid accidentally.

“I have known Sakher for four years. He was a very reserved person but would often talk to me. He used to drink everyday but never misbehaved with anyone. Hours before he died, I saw him leaving and I asked where he was going. He said that he was going out for a drink. Later, in the evening I was told he died,” said Shamir, a resident of Sudamapuri area.

Sakher, who got divorced in 2014, is survived by a daughter who lives with her mother in Mumbai.

“Sakher could never end his life like this. We are sure that somebody has murdered him. The culprit shall be punished,” said Sakher’s father Gaisuddin.

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