Three months after mob lynching victim’s death, Jharkhand police admit their failings in chargesheet


More than three months after a 55-year-old Christian tribal was lynched in Jharkhand’s Jurmu village by a mob of Hindu villagers for carving an ox, the local Gumla district police’s chargesheet in the case has revealed new evidence pointing to police apathy.

Testimonies of three Christian tribals injured in the attack reveal that the police ignored the victims of the mob attack for more than an hour-and-a-half as they lay on a street outside the police station, where the accused had allegedly dumped them after a four-hour assault.

It has now come to light that instead of rushing them to a medical facility, police officials only offered shawls to the severely injured victims. When the victims were finally ferried to a nearby primary healthcare centre, one of them, Prakash Lakda, was declared dead on arrival. The police had earlier denied allegations of delay.

FactChecker, in June, reported how the police investigations into many of such crimes in Jharkhand were marked by callousness and partisan behaviour, often leading to fatal consequences.

Police apathy

This also proved to be the case in the state’s latest hate crime on June 17 – the lynching of 24-year-old Tabrez Ansari, in which the victim, after 18 hours of assault by a mob, was taken to police custody instead of a hospital. Four days later, he was found unconscious in jail and was soon dead.

In Lakda’s case, the chargesheet, which has also pressed charges against the accused under the stringent Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, was filed earlier this month by the Gumla police.

Lawyers representing the victims say their testimonies in the chargesheet are proof that the police’s apathy led to Lakda’s death. Speaking to FactChecker, Gumla Superintendent of Police Anjani Kumar Jha admitted to the negligence and said that two police officials had been suspended for a month and departmental proceedings had been initiated against them.

The police has, so far, arrested seven of the 12 named accused – dozens of unnamed persons are also accused in the case.

But even as the Gumla police fight these allegations, they continue to press charges of cow slaughter against the victims, based on a complaint by those accused in the lynching.

On June 17, the district court of Gumla rejected the victims’ application for anticipatory bail – to shield them from arrest – after the state government’s public prosecutor alleged that the accused had slaughtered the ox for its meat. In the chargesheet, the accused, as well as other witnesses, have maintained that the ox was long dead before it was carved.

Jharkhand is the second deadliest state for hate crimes fuelled by religious bias, having reported 15 that are included in Hate Crime Watch, a FactChecker database that tracks such crimes. Jharkhand is considered a stronghold of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party – the party is in its second consecutive term at the Centre and has governed Jharkhand since 2014, too. In this year’s national elections, it won 12 of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in the state along with an ally.

‘Let’s kill them’

Describing the assault, 40-year-old Janerius Minj, one of the four tribals who was attacked by the mob, in his testimony to the police has said that on April 10, a mob of 30-40 people approached them from the direction of Jairagi village while they were carving a dead ox.

“All of them had sticks and rods in their hands and surrounded us,” he said. “Most of the 20-30 people from Jurmu escaped so they picked on the four of us and started assaulting us. They kept saying, ‘Let’s kill these people.’”

Minj has identified 12 people who he says played a leading role in the attack that lasted at least two-and-a-half hours. The mob then paraded the four through the village, forcing them to chant Jai Shri Ram slogans, in a pattern repeated in mob attacks across the country in recent weeks. “Whoever did not, was assaulted by the mob,” he said.

Then, Minj said, main accused Sanjay Sahu and Padu Sahu went to the local Dumri police station and came back in 30 minutes. “They arranged a bus, but Lakda was so badly beaten that he couldn’t even stand, nor could he get onto the bus, “he said in his testimony to the police, recorded on April 11, the day after the lynching. “So, Sahu and his men just dragged him into the bus and put him on the floor, at the back of the bus.”

At the end of the 19-km journey, the victims were left outside the Dumri police station. “They dumped Lakda at one spot and the rest of us three in another,” Minj said.

With the victims lying right outside the police station, police officials came out to check on them. “We were writhing in pain and could barely talk,” Minj said. “The police came, asked us what happened and asked us our names. We told them everything and told them that we felt very cold out there. So, they came back with shawls and lit a fire next to us before heading back into the police station.”

Minj, Lakda and two other victims – Peter Kerketta and Belesius Tirkey – lay there on the street for over 90 minutes, until a police vehicle took them to a nearby primary healthcare centre.

But the delay proved fatal for Lakda, who was declared dead on arrival.

Paraded through village

For Sanjay Sahu, the 48-year-old main accused in the lynching, the violence was justified.

In his confessional statement, Sahu, out on bail in a 2013 murder case, said that a mob of 60-odd people from his village, carrying sticks and rods, had rounded up the tribal villagers of Jurmu and assaulted four of them because what the victims were doing was “galat karya” or a misdeed.

“Some passersby told us that a group of people were carving a cow/ox and distributing its meat amongst themselves,” he said. “When we found out more, we realised that tribals from Jurmu including Lakda, Peter and others were carrying out this wrong act.”

Sahu’s testimony also reveals how the tribals suffered more assault when they were paraded through the village. “They had sustained many injuries… Then, we paraded them through the village, while chanting village slogans,” his testimony said. “Whoever saw them, came and assaulted them.”

At the hearings, the prosecution alleged that the three, along with 20-25 others, had “slaughtered the ox into pieces”. Advocate Shadab Ansari, representing the victims, however, said the police ignored its own chargesheet that said ox was already dead.

‘Poor evidence gathering’

Ansari, who is representing the three victims in the Jharkhand High Court, told FactCheckerthe police should have done more to bolster the case against the accused. “The entire chargesheet is based on victim and eyewitness testimonies,” he said. “But, there has been barely any investigation by the police to find evidence that corroborates and supports the testimonies.”

Listing out tactical errors in the police’s handling, Ansari said the police failed to record statements of victims and eyewitnesses before a magistrate, making it inadmissible as evidence in court. “The police did not even give the victims breathing space and went on to record their statements, a few hours after the attack,” Ansari said. “The victims were still under trauma and were intimidated by the fact that the police had filed a case against them for cow slaughter.”

An internal inquiry had revealed deficiencies in the police functioning on the night of the lynching, Gumla’s SP Jha said. “There was delay in attending to the victims and rushing them to the hospital,” he said. “Hence, we placed two officials, who were on duty that night, on suspension for a month. Their fate will be decided by departmental proceedings, currently underway.”

Kunal Purohit isan independent journalist and an alumnus of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, who writes on development, gender, right-wing politics and the intersections between them.

Rape victim who set herself on fire at Vaishali Nagar police station dies


Jaipur: The rape victim who attempted suicide at Vaishali Nagar police station by setting herself afire over alleged police inaction succumbed to burn injuries early on Monday. The woman who accused policemen of not taking action against the manwho raped her even a month after she lodged an FIR was undergoing treatment at SMS Hospital with over 75% burn marks. The family members demanded action against police officials after the woman’s death.

The woman, a resident of Kachan Vihar area in Jaipur, had registered an FIR one Ravindra Singh, belonging to Fatehpur Shekhawati about a month ago. The woman in the FIR stated that her husband was posted in army. Ravindra had come to her house with her husband nearly four years ago. Her husband went to Jammu and Kashmir on duty, but Ravindra kept visiting her house in his absence. Ravindra took her to the house of his friend one day on some pretext and made her have cold drink laced with drugs. He then raped her.

The woman visited the Vaishali Nagar police station almost daily after registering the FIR demanding action against the accused, but she alleged that the police officials were supporting the accused, not her. They accused her of registering a bogus complaint and pressurized her to withdraw the case. They even allegedly misbehaved with her.

The woman came to Vaishali Nagar police station along with her 13-year-old son. She set herself afire on the police station premises. The son started crying for help. A constable, Amar Singh, sustained serious burns while trying to rescue the woman.

She was rushed to the burn ward of SMS Hospital where doctors declared him around 5 am on Monday.

Son avoided bus journeys, had an unconfirmed train ticket: Father of Agra bus accident victim


Among the 29 people killed in Monday’s bus accident on the Yamuna Expressway near Agra, were 29-year-old electrical engineer Hazoor Alam from Azadpur and Rajendra Singh from Uttam Nagar.

A two-tiered sleeper AC bus, on its way from Lucknow to Delhi, skidded off the Yamuna Expressway and plunged about 20 feet into a drain. The accident took place around 4.30am in Etmadpur, about 200km from Delhi, when the Uttar Pradesh Roadways bus broke through the safety railing at a high speed and fell into the Jharna Nala, which had about six to eight feet of water,police said.

Alam’s family members said he rarely took a bus, and one of his few bus rides turned into his life’s last journey.

A resident of Lal Bagh in northwest Delhi’s Azadpur, Alam was returning home after dropping his wife at her parental home in Lucknow. Alam was supposed to take a train to Delhi, but he could not get a confirmed train ticket, even in Tatkal category. Also, he had to resume his office duty on Monday, Alam’s family members said.

“My son usually preferred train journeys. The office of the solar equipment manufacturing company he worked with was in Green Park, which is almost 30km from our home. Alam always travelled by Metro. He even avoided DTC buses or using a bike,” Alam’s father Mansoor Ali said.

Alam’s family members now regret allowing him to travel to his in-laws’ house in Lucknow to drop his wife, Shagufta.

“I had told Alam to send his wife with my younger son, Saddam Hussain, or ask someone from his in-laws’ family to accompany her to Lucknow. But this time he was reluctant on sending his wife with someone else. Today, I regret not compelling him to not travel without a confirmed return train ticket,” Ali said.

Alam had last spoken to his brother, Fahimuddin, around 10pm Sunday and had asked him to bring his clothes to their brother-in-law’s home in Vaishali near Ghaziabad as he had planned to change there and leave directly to office. His AC bus journey was supposed to culminate at Anand Vihar ISBT, the brother said.

According to Fahimuddin, nobody in his family was aware of his brother’s death until he called on Alam’s phone to see if he had reached Delhi. Fahimuddin found the phone switched off.

“My brother had asked me to reach Vaishali before 8am. But I woke up late and called him to inform him that I will be late. But his phone was switched off. I then contacted our brother-in-law who told me that my brother had not reached there,” Fahimuddin said.

Fahimuddin said his parents got worried when a relative told them about the bus accident in Agra. They sent their two sons and a relative to the accident spot in Agra and the hospitals where the injured and dead passengers were taken.

Alam’s brothers and relative reached the hospital in Agra and heard a staff member reading out his name from the list of dead passengers. The eldest of five siblings, Alam was also the main earning member of his family. He had completed his electrical engineering from a polytechnic in northwest Delhi in 2014. He and Shagufta had married in November 2017.

Jharkhand Mob Lynching Victim’s Viscera Samples Sent to Forensic Lab to Ascertain Exact Cause of Death


Jamshedpur: Viscera samples of Jharkhand mob victim, Tabrez Ansari, have been sent to a forensic lab in Ranchi to ascertain the exact cause of his death as his postmortem report did not indicate it, a senior doctor said Friday.

Seraikela-Kharsawan district civil surgeon AN Dey said the exact cause of Ansari’s death can be confirmed only when the forensic lab report is received in a fortnights time.

The autopsy, he said, was conducted in-camera by a three-member medical board constituted by the district administration in the presence of a magistrate.

Ansari (24) was allegedly tied to a pole and thrashed with sticks by a mob at Dhatkidih village in Jharkhand’s Seraikela Kharsawan district on June 17 on suspicion of theft. The recently married man was purportedly seen in a video being forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman”. So far 11 people have been arrested in connection with the incident.

Ansari was rushed to the Saraikela district hospital after he complained of uneasiness on June 21. On June 22, he was referred to the Tata Hospital in Jamshedpur where he was declared brought dead.

Suspecting that Ansari’s death could have been sudden, Dey said footage of the CCTV installed at the jail showed that he returned from the toilet the morning after his assault, asked for water from an inmate and drank it.

The man had external injuries on his left leg and hand,

and a cut mark on his skull. No internal injury was detected, Dey said quoting the postmortem report.

The victim did not have symptoms of brain hemorrhage nor complained of headache during the intervening four days between his assault and death, the civil surgeon added.

Bihari laborer Shahanbaz : A new victim of pellets in Kashmir


SRINAGAR: Police showering pellets on Kashmiri protestors have consumed many lives, blinded many more and left thousands slowly losing their vision. Now pellet firing by armed forces in Kashmir has shattered hopes of a teenage migrant Bihari labourer.

Hailing from north Indian state of Bihar, Shahanbaj, has become the unlikeliest addition to the never-ending horror of pellets in Kashmir. The victim, Mohammad Shahanbaj, 17, a resident of Bihar, was caught in clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in south Kashmir last week, resulting in pellet injuries to his eyes.

The victim has suffered “varying scale of damage” caused by the metallic balls in both his eyes which are going to be operated by doctors. The victim came to Kashmir earlier this month along with three others from his village and they were putting up in a rented room in Bellow village of the restive south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

On May 24, after finishing Friday prayers, Alam was buying ration for dinner when a violent protest erupted against the killing of Zakir Musa, the commander of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind militant group. Running for cover, Alam reached a nearby alleyway a few metres from his rented accommodation.

“I felt scared. I wanted to return to my dwelling,” he said, adding: “When the situation thawed, I stepped on the main road and a shower of pellets fired by security forces penetrated my face,” he told the Wire.

The rampant use of pellets as a crowd control weapon, especially since the 2016 mass uprising in the aftermath of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, has become a focus of public anger in Kashmir.

Teen’s death sparks tension in Bihar town; family says she was raped, killed


A 16-year-old girl’s death in Bihar’s Bhabua triggered tension in the town on Wednesday after her family alleged she was gang-raped and murdered by three men on Tuesday night.

The victim’s elder sister has accused three men of raping and killing her and filed a complaint at Bhagwanpur police station against two named and one unknown person belonging to a minority community.

Police, however, claimed that the girl has committed suicide and that the postmortem examination of her body has not confirmed rape.

“Prima facie, it seems to be a case of suicide due to a love affair. Police are investigating the case and trying to identify the people who have abetted the girl to end her life,” superintendent of police Dilnawaz Ahmad said.

The postmortem examination was conducted by a medical board at the district hospital in Bhabua and the body was sent to Varanasi for cremation under police protection on Wednesday.

The elder sister also alleged that Saish Ali, the son of Munnu Ansari from the adjacent village of Awasan, was dating the girl and often met her. She claimed her sister had revealed the names of two accused before she died. The girl had no reason to commit suicide as she had gone to the bank to withdraw money, the sister said.

The victim had gone to a bank in Bhabua on Tuesday morning. Her elder sister got a phone call in the evening from Ejaz Ansari alias Sonu, a resident of adjacent village Awasan who works as a nurse with a private hospital in Bhabua. Ansari told the sister that the girl was critical and admitted in the hospital he works for.

The elder sister rushed to the hospital but was asked to deposit Rs 4,000 towards the girl’s treatment before being allowed to meet her. She called a relative and arranged for the money. They also arranged for an ambulance to take away the girl to Varanasi but she died on the way around midnight.

“The accused had raped and poisoned my sister to destroy evidence. They admitted her in a private hospital without the knowledge of police and informed me at the eleventh hour when she was collapsing,” she alleged.

Nirmal Yadav, head of the victim’s village, said the girl’s parents work in Gujarat and left behind their two daughters at home.