Santa Kumar Chaudhary, who ran a liquor shop in Bhajani, was one of them. His wife Yamuna Devi Rasaili remembers the police buying alcohol, getting drunk and beating both husband and wife.
The inebriated policemen led by Inspector Bharat Shah then kicked down the door to the home of Brijmohan Chaudhary, who lived nearby. He told us: “Around 12 drunk policemen broke in at 1AM and began beating me and took me to jail.”
Kisan Lal Chaudhary remembers the torture in custody. “They used sticks and even their gun butts to beat us senseless,” says Kisan Lal, who still needs treatment. Vegetable vendor Rajesh Chaudhary was also arrested that night, and severely tortured. Santaram Chaudhary, a teacher from Bhajani, had to be taken to hospital after the torture shattered his right eardrum.
Even before the 24 August 2015 killings, Rajkumar Kathariya and Sundarlal Kathariya of Janaki village were shot in police firing and had been hospitalised.
But the police picked them anyway, accusing them of being involved in the killing of policemen. Rajkumar’s brother-in-law Ram Kumar Kathariya went to the hospital with clothes and money, and stayed there overnight. On 25 August, Rajkumar, Sundarlal and Ram Kumar were arrested at the hospital.
“They asked us if we had gone to the protests and killed those policemen,” Rajkumar recalls. “I told them that was impossible because I had been shot by the police before the killings, and was in hospital. But they beat me up anyway.”
Seven months into custody, Rajkumar’s wife Sita gave birth to their son. Sita would visit Rajkumar in prison with their infant son. Even as he was filled with joy, the first sight of his child, whom he couldn’t hold or even touch, broke his heart. “I wish I had been with Sita when she was pregnant,” says Rajkumar, holding his son at his doorstep last week, six years after that horror-filled day. “I suffered thinking about her going through it alone.”
The Kailali District Court ruled that Rajkumar would serve a life sentence for the Tikapur killings. However, in December 2020, the Dipayal High Court reduced Rajkumar’s sentence to five years. By that time, however, he had already spent six months more than his term. Rajkumar’s brother-in-law Ram Kumar was initially sentenced to three years in prison, even though he had already spent three-and-a-half years in jail by that time.