India

‘Not just Democracy, but the whole civilisation is under threat’

Afroz Alam Sahil

New Delhi : An independent committee consisting of members of the civil society and various human rights organisation released a report on Monday, April 2nd on how the Jharkhand Police sabotaged probe into Latehar lynching of two Muslims in 2016.

The report has been endorsed by Alliance for Justice and Accountability, New York; Citizens for Justice and Peace, Mumbai; Dalit American Coalition, New York; Indian American Muslim Council, Washington D.C.; Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association, New Delhi; National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements, New Delhi; Rihai Manch, Lucknow; South Asia Solidarity Group, London; South Asian Solidarity Initiative, New York; The Quill Foundation, New Delhi and United Against Hate, New Delhi. It was released on Monday evening at the Press Club of India, New Delhi.

The event was attended by the family members victims along with eye witness Mohammad Nizamuddin, Lawyer Abdul  Salam, Prashant Bhushan, Supreme Court lawyer; Ajit Sahi, Senior Journalist; Pronjoy Guha Thakurta; Senior Journalist and Umar Khalid, a student leader.

“The BJP was giving full protection to ‘Gau Rakshaks’ and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is controlling hate and fake news being circulated in the country,” Prashant Bhushan said during the release of the report.

Such ‘hate’ crimes mostly happen in BJP-ruled states and the states have given protection to the cow vigilantes, he added.

He termed BJP’s Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath as a “goonda” and a “history sheeter” and referring to recent communal riots in West Bengal and Bihar, he further alleged that the Modi government was behind it.

“we should not just bother about democracy which is under threat but the more scaring truth of the time is that the whole civilisation is at risk. I appeal to the people who are concerned about the rule of law and civilisation need to come ahead against such  communal forces,” he warned.

 He added that the government is already adding fuel to the fire and the media is also playing the same game of communalising everything.

Senior journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta said that politicians and administration were helping people behind lynchings and urged people to fight against the “poison” being spread in the country.

On March 18, 2016, in a remote rural part of Latehar district of Jharkhand, a group of Hindu men self-styled as gau rakshaks kidnapped two Muslims, Mazloom Ansari (32) and Imtiaz Khan (12), beat them mercilessly, and hanged them to death by a tree.

The report showed, as with most lynchings by gau rakshaks across India, this ghastly incident, too, is backed by eyewitness accounts and other testimonies. These clearly establish the following:

•At least three people saw the crime being committed;

•The eyewitnesses knew at least some of the murderers by face and name;

•The murderers had previously threatened to kill the victims unless they stopped trading in cattle

This report shows, not only did the police not fully investigate the crime on basis of eyewitness accounts and testimonies, but also failed to press appropriate charges against the accused. This has considerably weakened the case, as a consequence of which every one of the accused was able to secure bail from the Jharkhand High Court.

According to the report, the eyewitness accounts, the testimonies and the post-mortem reports should have clearly made the police pursue an investigation along the following lines:

—The murders were premeditated as the accused knew both victims from beforehand and had threatened them weeks before the crime.

—The accused had hatched a conspiracy to carry out the killings.

—At least one alleged conspirator is linked with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which also rules the state of Jharkhand

—The attackers were armed, with pistols and hard, blunt rod-like weapons

However, though the police acknowledged the involvement of a gau rakshak, they were quick to suggest these weren’t vigilante killing but actually the result of a “gang attempting to loot cattle.

Earlier TwoCircles.net did eight-part series on Mob Lynching in Jharkhand. TCN’s Afroz Alam Sahil travelled across Jharkhand to understand and narrate how the terror spread by right-wing fundamentalists under the garb of protecting the cow has left a trail of blood in its path. He revisited the Latehar in January 2018 and found out that despite the heinous crime, the accused are not only out on bail, but also on a mission to continue to terrorize and intimidate Muslims living in the region. Read here earlier report : Two years after Latehar lynching, no end in site to the terror of “cow-vigilantes”

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