Protests in several cities against lynching of Muslim man in Jharkhand; Narendra Modi says he is ‘pained’


New Delhi: Protests were held in several Indian cities on Wednesday following the lynching of a Muslim man last week by a Hindu mob that suspected he was a thief.

Increasing anger about the killing in Jharkhand prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make his first comments on the matter on Wednesday, telling the upper house of parliament he was “pained” to hear about it and calling for “the strictest possible punishment to the accused”.

Cellphone videos shared on local television channels showed 24-year-old Tabrez Ansari tied to a pole and begging for mercy as some men beat him with sticks and forced him to chant his devotion to Hindu gods.

Ansari was caught by a mob of villagers who suspected he was a thief in the Seraikela-Kharsawan area of Jharkhand on June 18, said Avinash Kumar, a deputy superintendent of police in the area.

Eleven villagers have been arrested and a special investigation team set up to probe the matter, Kumar said.

Villagers called the police and lodged a case against Ansari, and police took him to the hospital, but Ansari succumbed to his injuries while in custody four days later, Kumar said. Two police officers from the area have been suspended, police told local media.

Dozens of people gathered in New Delhi carrying placards calling for justice for Ansari’s killing. In Gujarat and West Bengal, hundreds took to the streets carrying posters that read ‘No more lynching in the name of religion.’

Protests were planned in about 50 cities. It wasn’t immediately clear how many took place.

Hate crimes against minorities have spiked in India since Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014. Dozens of Muslim men have been attacked or lynched by Hindu mobs since then, many on suspicion of slaughtering cows, which are considered holy in the Hindu religion.

Two days after Ansari’s killing, a Muslim religious school teacher in West Bengal’s Kolkata alleged he’d been pushed off a moving train when he refused to chant his devotion to Hindu gods as some Hindu men in the train demanded.

Many people took to social media to condemn the BJP-led government in Jharkhand state, where civil society groups have recorded at least 13 lynchings of minorities, mainly Muslims, in the past three years.

The United States last week released an annual report on international religious freedoms that said religious intolerance was increasing in India and extremist narratives had “facilitated an egregious and ongoing campaign of violence, intimidation, and harassment against non-Hindu and lower-caste Hindu minorities.”

India rejected the report saying it saw “no locus standi for a foreign government to pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights.”

“Because he was a Muslim he was beaten so brutally,” Ansari’s wife Shaishta Ansari told the television channel NDTV.

“My husband was my only support. Who will I live for now? I want justice.”

11 get life imprisonment in Dumka gang-c case



A local court in Dumka on Monday sentenced 11 persons to life imprisonment for raping a 19-year-old woman in the district in 2017.

“Pronouncing the punishment on Monday, the court also slapped a fine on each of the convicts of ₹2.97 lakh. It was observed that the amount would be paid to the victim,” said additional public prosecutor Surendra Prasad Sinha.

Last week, district and sessions judge Pawan Kumar had convicted the them under section 376 D (gang-rape) and many other sections under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The court awarded life sentence to John Murmu, Marshal Murmu, Albinus Hembrom, Jaiprakash Hembrom, Subhash Hembrom, Shailendra Murmu, Suraj Soren, Daniel Kisku, Suman Soren, Anil Rana and Saddam Ansari. The convicts are aged between 19 to 24 years.

The case involved as many as 16 accused out of which five were minors. The minors are being tried separately in juvenile justice board.

The incident occurred on September 6, 2017, between 8-9 pm when the victim, travelling on a motorcycle along with her boyfriend, was intercepted by a group of five-six young men at Digghi locality. The miscreants dragged the girl to a nearby secluded place, summoned their other friends and raped the girl one by one. One of the them, even made a video of the whole incident.

According to the FIR lodged with the Mofassil police station on the basis of victim’s statement, the girl, along with her boyfriend, had gone to her college on a motorbike. While returning, they were stopped at a place to attend nature’s call. Soon, the miscreants reached there and inquired from her about the purpose of making a halt. They demanded money from the couple saying that they could provide a hideout to them to get physical.

When the victim reacted, the accused assaulted both of them and snatching their mobile phones and money. The accused summoned some of their friends. Soon 15-20 local youths assembled there and dragged the girl to nearby bushes and raped her.

The girl informed that she had heard names of some of the accused while they were outraging her modesty. She disclosed that she could not recall other names as she fell unconscious after resisting for a while. After regaining consciousness, the girl and her friend somehow managed to reach the police station, she had informed.