Another lynching took place in Jharkhand, when Tabrej, a Welder, who used to work outside Jharkhand and had come home to celebrate Eid, was beaten brutally for alleged theft. He succumbed at the hospital four days later
Jharkhand witnessed another lynching. This time of a 24 year old Muslim youth, Tabjrej Ansari in Seraikela Kharsawan on June 21, the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Jharkhand to participate in the International Yoga Day event. On that day, a mob, who allegedly captured one Tabrej Ansari alias Sonu, on allegations of theft, tied Tabrej to an electric pole. The video of the incident shows that when the mob asked his name and he replied, "Sonu", they abused him and demanded to know his actual name. Terrified, he replied saying " Tabrej" (an obviously Muslim name). Immediately, the mob began chanting Jai Sri Ram, pounced on him, and beat him up, brutally. Later, they left him, badly injured. When he was brought to hospital, Tabrej succumbed to his injuries during treatment. However, the police said the cause of the death of Tabrej Ansari, a resident of Kharsawan city, was not yet known since the autopsy report has not been submitted yet.
Tabrej becomes the 13th person, who has been lynched in Jharkhand, since 2016. The last one was a tribal Prakash Lakra who was beaten to death on April 10 for skinning dead Ox. While most remain Muslims, and have been lynched rumpours circulated on Whatsapp and social media of 'beef eating' or for cattle trading, some others have got killed over allegation of thefts too. These allegations have been disputed by the victim families however. Since 2015, a large number of lynching cases have taken place in BJP ruled state particularly in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Jharkhand.
Videos of the assault soon spread on social media. Ansari’s family approached the police with the videos after his death, based on which an FIR was filed. The complainant was Shaista Parveen, Ansari’s wife. On the basis of the videos, the police arrested a villager identified as Pappu Mandal and named 100 unidentified people in its first information report. “He has been arrested under murder and rioting charges,” said the police. Superintendent of Police Chandan Kumar Sinha, confirmed the incident to the local media saying, “I have joined here yesterday only and informed about the incident verbally. One accused have been arrested so far, while three to four persons have been named and many unnamed accused too mentioned in the FIR.”
Tabrej Ansari’s family has filed a police complaint based on videos of his assault that are circulating on social media. The complaint may be read here:
According to the FIR, the mob also forced Ansari to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman”. However, the police denied the mob's invovlement with any Hindutva organisations and said that Pappu Mandal did not belong to any Hindutva organisation such as the Bajrang Dal. District police chief Karthik S also refused to comment on Ansari being forced to chant the slogans. “I have not heard any of those videos,” he said. “The situation here is peaceful.”
However, Ansari’s wife accused the police of not providing her husband proper treatment even though he had sustained injuries in the head, reported Avenue Mail, a Jharkhand-based newspaper. His uncle Maksud Ansari alleged that villagers had brutally murdered his nephew and accused the police of delaying action against the perpetrators. Maksud Ansari claimed that his nephew died in jail but prison officials sent him to a hospital to save themselves. He demanded stringent action against jail and district police officials.
The police has put out its own version of the incident however. They say that Ansari was caught in Dhaktidih village while allegedly attempting to steal a motorcycle. “Two of his accomplices escaped,” Superintendent of Police Karthik S told the Mumbai-based Scroll.in. “But he was ill-treated by the villagers. When the police got the information, they went to the spot and took him in custody, along with the motorcycle.”
Ansari was charged with attempting to steal, and produced in a court that sent him to judicial remand. According to the police, he fell ill on Saturday and was taken to a hospital, where he died. This has been contested by local activists. “While it’s being reported that the death happened in the hospital, Ansari actually died in police custody,” claimed Afzal Anis, an activist.
Just yesterday, the official report released by the United States had opined said mob attacks by “violent extremist Hindu groups” against minority communities, particularly Muslims, continued in India in 2018 amid rumours that victims had traded or killed cows for beef. Predictably the report had been rejected by the Indian Ministry for External Affairs. Not far back, in April this year, a mob lynched an Adivasi man in the state’s Gumla district for cutting a dead bull. Three others were injured in the incident. On May 31, a strong 5,000 person protest was held in outrage against the incident.
In another horrific incident in March 2016, cow vigilantes had abducted cattle trader Majloom Ansari and schoolboy Imtiaz Khan in Latehar district while they were on their way to a cattle fair in a neighbouring district. They lynched the two and hanged them from a tree. In December 2018, a local court sentenced eight convicts to life for their involvement in the incident.
To stop lynching cases, Supreme Court has also issued orders in this regard, but the incidents continue. Nodal officers are required to be appointed by state governments to prevent this new form of violence.