Three former BJP MLAs and a couple of local groups have started a protest demanding an inquiry by the CBI or NIA into the Alimuddin Ansari lynching case. A fast-track court in Ramgarh recently awarded life imprisonment to 11 accused in the case, including members of the local Bajrang Dal’s gau raksha samiti and a district BJP leader.
Ansari (45) was beaten to death by a mob comprising members of Bajrang Dal’s gau raksha samiti on June 29, 2017, on Ramgarh-Gola Road. He was carrying beef in his vehicle, which was set afire. The court gave life sentence to the 11 accused on March 21. A decision on the 12th accused — whether he is to be tried under the IPC or as a juvenile — is pending.
Former Ramgarh MLA Shankar Chowdhary, along with Hindu Samaj Party (a political outfit founded by Kamlesh Tiwari, who has earlier been arrested for making derogatory comments against Prophet Mohammad) and Ramgarh Yuva Sangh (a local social organisation of youths) — are on a 15-day round-the-clock dharna in Ramgarh town under the banner “Atal Vichar Manch”. Former MLAs Loknath Mahato (Barkagaon in Hazaribagh) and Devi Dayal Kushwaha (Hazaribagh) also joined the protests.
Along with Chowdhary, three others, including Surendra Mishra, father of one of the convicts Deepak Mishra, got their heads tonsured at a temple, “taking vows not to grow hair until a CBI/NIA inquiry is ordered”. A motorcycle rally dubbed “Tiranga Yatra”, attended by youths, was also held in the main town Tuesday.
If the demand is not met by April 24, Chowdhary said, street meetings would be held across Ramgarh from April 26 to April 30. On May 1, a Ramgarh bandh will be called.
“This is just the first phase. If our demand is not listened to, we plan to continue for at least two more months,” said Chowdhary. “Innocent people have been held guilty. Alimuddin died in police custody, due to police beatings. Police implicated them to hide their own wrong deeds. If one is so badly injured, why should the police take him to the police station instead of a hospital? We are not commenting on the court’s judgment. But in a democracy, we have freedom to be dissatisfied.”
The agitation started three days after Union Minister of State Jayant Sinha — the local MP — announced at a press conference in Ramgarh that he would write to Chief Minister Raghubar Das seeking a CBI inquiry into the incident. At the press conference, Sinha said that he had studied the matter and felt that “complete justice” had not been done.
However, the protesters claimed that it was not the minister’s announcement that led to the agitation but a groundswell of opinion against the judgment.
Chowdhary also dared Sinha to announce a date on which CBI/NIA inquiry would be ordered. The former MLA added: “This is not a communal issue, nor is it about intra-party politics. This is about justice.”
Balram Kushwaha, district BJP general secretary and a Kushwaha community leader, who is part of the agitation, said, “It is about people in need.”
HSP youth wing leader Deepak Sisodia said: “Entire Ramgarh knows that Alimuddin walked to the police station. There were hundreds, if not thousands, at the spot. How can only 11 men be held guilty?”
RYS secretary Abhishek Sah said, “This issue has been in discussion across the town since the incident occurred. This was conveyed to the minister through Chowdhary, following which he made the announcement.”