Tabrez Ansari (22), who died after being assaulted by a mob on the suspicion of theft, was the 18th victim of mob violence in Jharkhand in the past three years.
These incidents were triggered by a variety of factors, ranging from suspicion of cattle slaughter and theft, and child-lifting rumours.
A total of eight cases were registered pertaining to these deaths. Most of these cases are pending trial. Convictions have been secured in only two cases — of these, life term sentence was suspended in one.
On March 18, 2016, Mazlum Ansari and Imteyaz Khan were beaten to death and their bodies hung from a tree in Jhabar village. The perpetrators were allegedly members of one Gau Rakshak Samiti, who attacked the duo when they were taking eight oxen to a local market for sale.
A sessions court in December 19, 2018, convicted eight accused for murder and sentenced them to life imprisonment. In the order, the Additional Sessions Judge said, “The convicts deserve no sympathy either of the society or of this court, therefore, the maximum sentence may be awarded to all the eight convicts so that message may go to the society and none can think to repeat such type crime in future.”
On June 29, 2017, Alimuddin, alias Asgar Ansari, was intercepted by a mob on suspicion that he was carrying beef in his van. The mob allegedly assaulted him and set the car on fire. Ansari later succumbed to the injuries. In March 2018, a fast-track court convicted and sentenced 11 accused, including BJP leader Nityanand Mahto, to life imprisonment for the murder. Another accused is a juvenile and the case is on in the Juvenile Justice Board.
Three months later, Jharkhand High Court granted bail to 10 out of 11 accused and suspended their life-term during the pendency of the appeal in view of “lack of evidence on specific assault”. Ansari’s family will appeal against the order in Supreme Court.
On May 18, 2017, four people, Haleem, Nayeem, Sajjad and Siraj Khan, were lynched in Shobhapur and Padnamsai over rumours of child lifting. The mob also attacked the policemen who went to rescue the victims. Two cases were registered — one for the lynchings and another for obstructing public servant on duty. The first case is pending trial. In the second case, a fast-track court in July 2018 convicted 12 people and sentenced them to four years of imprisonment for “obstructing and assaulting government officials on duty, attacking with deadly weapons, trespassing into other’s house, disturbing law and order, breaking public peace’’.
On May 18, 2017, brothers Vikas Verma and Gautam Verma, their grandmother Ram Chandra Devi and their friend Gangesh Gupta were attacked by a mob following child-lifting rumours. Uttam, the brother of Vikas and Gautam, had said he went with his brother to look for a land for building toilets when the villagers demanded to see their IDs.
They also asked their 70-year-old grandmother to provide proof that they were not child-lifters. They were allegedly beaten to death. A case under charges of murder and other sections was registered at Baghbera Police Station against 17 accused. The trial is on in the court of Additional Sessions Judge.
On August 19, 2017, a tribal Christian, Ramesh Minz, and others were attacked by a group of cow vigilantes in Barkol area of Garhwa over the suspicion that they had killed an ox. Minz died while he was in judicial custody and it was alleged that doctors didn’t treat him properly. A case was registered and is currently at evidence stage pending trial. A case was also registered against the victims under the Jharkhand Bovine Animal Prohibition of Slaughter Act.
On September 5, 2018, three persons were beaten up by residents of Tisibar village on the suspicion that they were thieves. Police said the three went to the village to meet the family of a girl in connection with a marriage proposal. They were were rushed to hospital where one Bablu Mushar died. Police had said a burglary occurred in the area the night before and rumour spread that these three played a role in it. A case was registered against the villagers. The case is pending trial at evidence stage.
On June 13, 2018, Chiraguddin and Murtaza Ansari were caught by villagers for allegedly stealing buffaloes and were beaten to death by a mob in Bankatti village. Police arrested four persons and later registered two cases — one for the murder of Ansari and Chiraguddin and another against people with Ansari for allegedly stealing buffaloes. A chargesheet was filed and the matter is at evidence stage pending trial.
On April 10, 2019, a mob attacked four men in a field between Jhurmo and Jairagi villages. Police rushed the four — all tribal Christians — to a community health centre where one Prakash Lakra was declared dead. The others, identified as Peter Phuljans, Belasus Tirkey and Janriush Minz were sent to Ranchi for treatment. A case of murder was registered against seven people of Jairagi village. A case was also registered against the victims under the law against cow slaughter. Both cases are under investigation and the chargesheet has not been filed.
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