“Chhote Lal was like a don in our village,” the neighbours of the prime accused in the Alwar rape case say unanimously.
Chhote Lal, with four other men, raped a 19-year-old Dalit woman in front of her husband and filmed the heinous act in Rajasthan’s Thanagazi on the afternoon of 26 April. The five accused men and the sixth man who circulated the video on social media on 4 May have since been arrested.
When The Quint visited Lal’s village in Karana in Rajasthan, his neighbours said, “The police used to keep coming to our village to pick him up every now and then. Once he had a fight with one of the villagers and lost both his legs in the violence.”
Chhote Lal has previous criminal cases registered against him at the Bansur police station in Alwar, including charges of rioting, possessing deadly weapons, and looting.
No Parent Teaches His Son to Become a Criminal: Main Accused’s Father
Chhote Lal’s father sits on a cot in the courtyard outside a modest kachcha house in Karana village. His aged face wrinkles up when I ask about his second son. “I don’t know if he has actually done what they (the police) are accusing him of. No parent ever teaches their son to become a criminal.”
“He used to live near Thanagazi where he used to run an illegal liquor shop. He hardly came back here,” says Lal’s father.
He says Lal had to drop out of school in ‘Class 8 or 9’ to feed the family. “He used to do odd jobs like driving trucks or make locks and keys.”
Sitting on the floor, by the side of her husband’s cot, Lal’s mother refuses to accept that her son has committed the crime he is being accused of.
"“He used to earn money to feed us. Where is the proof that he has done it?”" - Chhote Lal’s Mother
She is echoed by Lal’s 16-year-old sister. “He can hardly walk. How can he rape a woman?”
The Other Accused
Asked if he knew the other four men arrested with him from before, Lal’s mother says she had no clue. A report by The Indian Express says one of the other accused, Hansraj Gurjar was Chhote Lal’s cousin and the five men, on 26 April afternoon, were attending a function at Lal’s house.
The third accused – Indraj Gurjar – is Hansraj's brother-in-law and drives a tractor to earn a living. Another accused Ashok Gurjar works at tea stall and Mahesh Gurjar is Ashok's uncle and does odd jobs to make ends meet.
Mukesh Gurjar, the man accused of circulating the video of the gang rape, is from Hansraj's village and worked as a labourer on farms, according to the report.
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