27 November 2022
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On the muggy night of May 7, around 10 pm, a 14-year-old boy died in Antwa, a tiny speck of a village of less than 200 people in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao district. A solitary bullet pierced through Deepak Kumar’s slender torso, killing him almost instantly.

Kumar’s death was duly noted by the press: a child had perished as the families of “two rival candidates” in the panchayat elections had “clashed”.

The Oxford dictionary defines a clash as “a short fight between two groups of people”, implying equal and voluntary participation by both sides. But Kumar did not die in an equal and voluntary fight.

In April, his aunt, Meenu Devi, had contested the panchayat elections for the post of the village pradhan, or chief. She lost to Anuradha Singh, one of her neighbours.

The day the results were declared, the Singh family carried out a victory ride. Their cavalcade stopped right outside the Kumar family’s home and they fired a few celebratory shots in the air. The expression of supremacy perhaps reflected more than just the poll outcome – the Singhs are upper-caste Thakurs, while the Kumars are Gadariyas, a backward caste.

I saw the video on Kumar’s mobile phone. It seemed to have been shot in fading light. There…

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Abdul Gh Lone

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