Hate Watch: Dalit, Covid health worker, killed for sporting moustache in Rajasthan

Jitendra Meghwal, was killed for looking ‘upper caste’ in the eye, sporting a moustache, posting on social media, the accused travelled 800 km to kill him

Image: The Quint

Jitendra Meghwal, also known as Jitendrapal Meghwal was working as a Covid health Assistant at a government hospital in the Pali district of Rajasthan. A few months ago he may have been one of the frontline workers being hailed and applauded for heroic efforts to help the public deal with the killer pandemic. However this young man, with an impressive moustache adding to his personality was publicly stabbed to death by two men identified as Suraj Singh Rajpurohit and Ramesh Singh. The accused were arrested on Thursday, March 17, 2022.

According to a report in the portal Ground report, and other media, Meghwal, a resident of Barwa village, was stabbed to death by two men on March 15, Tuesday. He a Dalit man, was reportedly killed for daring to keep a moustache in Rajasthan. A moustache in this state, as in many parts of India, especially North India is often seen as a status symbol, a sign of ‘manhood’ and privilege reserved for the so called ‘upper castes’.



It was Meghwal’s defiance of this discriminatory anti-Dalit rule that survives in the garb of tradition that is the excuse for an enraged Suraj Singh Rajpurohit and Ramesh Singh who reportedly travelled around 800 km on their motorcycle. According to news reports they probably were tracking Meghwal after an alleged dispute with him on June 23, 2020. Over the years Meghwal had been posting his photos on social media sharing his lifestyle and of course the stylish moustache that was not his signature style.

Suraj Singh Rajpurohit and Ramesh Singh brutally stabbed Meghwal seven times, photos of the victim’s body have gone viral on social media and demands for justice have been growing. Meghwal’s family and other villagers too protested outside Bali hospital demanding justice.

According to media reports it was on June 23, 2020 that an altercation allegedly took place between Jitendra Meghwal and the men now accused of his murder. That day Meghwal was reportedly outside his house in Barwa village when Suraj Singh Rajpurohit, passed by and rebuked the Dalit man of “making eye contact”. The argument soon grew and ended up in a physical scuffle following which Meghwal filed a case against Rajpurohit and his two accomplices, stated the news report. The accused, it appears were “angry” and this is what led to the fatal attack on Meghwal two years down the line.



This horrific crime brought back memories of a 2021  caste-based attack  at Ahmedabad’s Viramgam Taluka. Here, 11 people attacked Suresh Vaghela (22), a Dalit because he was “sporting a long moustache”.    



This murder took place in Congress ruled Rajashtan, and questions are being raised on the chief minister, Ashok Gahlots’ reported silence on the matter so far. One of the accused, Suraj Singh Rajpurohit, is from the same village as the victim but works in Surat. He reportedly rode 800 KM on a bike with his friend Ramesh Singh to track and attack  Meghwal. According to a news report on the fateful day Meghwal finished his work day and was allegedly chased by the accused who then stabbed him repeatedly. According to some reports Meghwal had identified his killers before he succumbed to the fatal injuries.



On June 5, June 2021, Vinod Bamnia, all of 21 years of age, an active member of the Bhim Army, raising his voice against casteism and was slowly being known for his activism in Rajasthan’s Hanumangarh district was attacked near his own house by men allegedly shouting casteist slurs as they assaulted him. According to news reports, the attackers kept shouting “Aaj tumhe tumhara Ambedkarvad yaad dilvayenge (We will make you remember your Ambedkarite ideology today.” The young man was so severely injured that he died two days later at a hospital in Sriganganagar. The Bhim Army had alleged “police inaction” then too.



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