On a day when Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das condemned the two attacks in the state this week over the issue of cow protection, family members of the 45-year-old man who died after one of those assaults in Ramgarh Thursday alleged that some of the attackers were linked to a Gau Raksha Samiti and the Bajrang Dal.
On Friday, police arrested one man in connection with the lynching of Alimuddin Ansari, but did not reveal his identity. However, the victim’s family members have named 12 persons in their police complaint, and claimed that some were linked to the local cow protection group and the Hindutva outfit.
Official sources told The Indian Express that the suspects “were people active on the issue of cow protection” and that “the presence of at least some of them at the spot has been established”.
When The Indian Express visited Ramgarh town, it found that the Gau Raksha Samiti and Bajrang Dal operated out of the same building near the local block office but were shut Friday.
Ansari, from the Giddi area of Ramgarh, succumbed to injuries on Thursday afternoon after he was assaulted by at least 10 men who intercepted his van near Ranchi.
Police, however, are also probing the role of Ansari and his family for their alleged involvement in the transportation and sale of “prohibited bovine meat”, and believe that the assault was the result of a dispute between the victim and the suspects, who used to extort money from him.
Chief Minister Das, meanwhile, issued a call for “tough action” against those involved in such incidents.
In a statement issued a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke against violence in the name of cow protection, Das also warned police and the administration to ensure that cattle smuggling and slaughter were “completely banned in the state”.
“Wherever the prevalence of illegal cattle smuggling or slaughter is confirmed, the police station in-charge concerned would be dismissed and action would also be taken against the DySP,” said Das.
In Ramgarh, police have initiated an inquiry under the Jharkhand Bovine Animal Prohibition of Slaughter Act, 2005, to “unravel the chain of illegal supply of bovine meat” of which the victim was allegedly a part.
Police have also registered an FIR under IPC sections 302 (murder) and 34 (furtherance of common intention) on the complaint of Ansari’s wife Mariam Khatoon, who has named 12 persons: Deepak Mishra, Chhotu Verma, Pappu Yadav, Sujeet Sonkar, Bhajan Thakur, Nagendra Munda, Birju Goenka, Nityanand Mahato, Chhotu Rana, Santosh Singh, Vijay Kumar Singh and Alok Barelia.
Speaking to The Indian Express at her home in Manua village, 6 km from Ramgarh town, Mariam alleged, “Once you arrest people like Deepak and Chhotu, all the others would be arrested. They are all together. They are from Bajrang Dal and the Gau Raksha Samiti.”
Asked whether the accused had threatened Ansari in the past, she claimed that “there was never any problem”.
Apart from Mariam, Ansari is survived by six children, including three daughters and three sons. While the eldest daughter is married, the others are studying at the local government school and a madarsa nearby, said Mariam.
Ansari’s eldest son Shahzad, who appeared for the Class 10 exams this year, said, “People from the Bajrang Dal have done this. Who has given them the right to decide what is right and wrong? How can they kill anybody?”
Mustafa Ansari, secretary of the village masjid committee, said, “We are tired of these people. They are creating problems everywhere in Ramgarh. Just before Eid, two of our people were arrested on false charges of smuggling cattle, which they had actually purchased.”
According to residents of the area, the Gau Raksha Samiti’s office had been running for more than five to six years. There was no response from the local Bajrang Dal unit or the Gau Raksha Samiti despite repeated attempts by The Indian Express to seek their response to the allegations.
Late Thursday night, Ansari’s family members and other residents of Manua staged a protest, damaging vehicles on the road, because of an alleged delay in the victim’s body being handed over.
On Friday, the administration announced Rs 2 lakh in compensation to Ansari’s family, apart from Rs 20,000 for the burial, which was performed this afternoon.
Jharkhand IGP M L Meena, who visited Ramgarh Friday, said, “The administration has reasons to believe that prohibited meat was being traded, while all illegal slaughter houses are supposed to be shut. This matter requires inquiry. We have to find out from where the victim had brought the meat. As far as the act of lynching is concerned, we have identified many of the accused. One person has been arrested.”
Speaking to The Indian Express, a senior police officer said investigations have indicated that Ansari was involved in “dubious activities”.
“He had no credible source of income. He had been chargesheeted in a case of kidnapping and murder of a child, and a theft case. He used to deal in the coal business off and on, and was also in touch with some illegal meat suppliers,” said the officer.
“Besides, the Maruti van in which he was travelling had a fake registration number plate from West Bengal. We have reasons to believe that he was involved in ferrying prohibited meat, which the accused knew about. We can’t rule out the possibility of the accused targeting him for money,” said the officer.
On Tuesday, a 60-year-old dairy farmer was beaten unconscious by a mob outside his house in Giridih district after the carcass of a cow was found outside his house.