Special Correspondent | TwoCircles.net
New Delhi: A 32-year-old man was lynched to death on Monday, October 3 near the Jharkhand-Chhattisgarh border in Gumla district. The deceased was later identified as Ejaz Khan — a resident of Tigra village at Govindpur panchayat in Jharkhand’s Gumla district.
The incident, according to the police, took place on October 3 night when he was spotted on a motorbike, carrying goats on a motorbike, near Neemgaon of Jashpur City Kotwali area.
Suspecting him to be a cattle thief, a mob chased and caught him on the banks of a river near Paiku. He was so brutally assaulted that he died on the spot.
His friend, Safdar, who was driving the bike, was also caught by the murderous but somehow managed to escape.
Sources said people belonging to Patratoli village at Duldula tehsil in Chhattisgarh’s Jashpur district were allegedly involved in the attack. The village is close to Barkadih, which is located in Jari police station area of Jharkhand’s Gumla district.
Rubbishing the allegation of cattle theft, Sarwar said his brother had some dispute with a few people in Patratoli who attacked and killed him. His motorbike was also found burnt in the village.
Though the police said a case has been registered under “relevant” sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), no arrest has been made so far even 48 hours after the incident.
Ironically, the cops, instead of making attempts to apprehend the culprits, are saying that the deceased had cases against him.
“A case has already been lodged under relevant sections of the law, and efforts are on to nab the accused. Assistance has been sought from Chhattisgarh’s Jashpur police in the case,” Gumla Superintendent of Police D Ravi Shankar told TwoCircles.net, adding that the deceased had criminal antecedents
“He had earlier been sent to jail in cases of theft (Sections 379 and 414 of the IPC) lodged at Palkot, Dumri, and Jari police stations,” he added.
The police said the matter is being investigated to ascertain the reasons behind the attack that led to the killing.
Forty-six mob-lynchings since 2016
Replying to a question raised by legislator Vinod Singh of the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) during an Assembly session in March, the Jharkhand government for the first time admitted that the state has witnessed 46 incidents of mob-lynching in the state in the last five years. However, the government did not disclose the number of persons who have died in such incidents.
With a maximum 16 in 2017, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Alamgir Alam informed the House on March 16, the state reported 46 incidents from 2016 to 2021. While four mob-lynching incidents took place in 2018, the number stood at nine in 2019. The number went down to five in 2020. It rose last year and went up to eight.
He further said 51 people convicted in 11 cases of mob-lynching have been awarded life imprisonment and a total of Rs 19.9 lakh has been paid to the aggrieved families as compensation.
However, Singh said convictions are still awaited in most cases, and compensation is yet to be paid to the families of the victims.
The government assured that it will expedite the process of compensating the victims’ families and also agreed to set up a fast-track court for the speedy hearing.
Of the total 46 cases of mob lynchings in Jharkhand, convictions have been done only in two cases of Ramgarh (where bovine trader Alimuddin Ansari was dragged out of his van and killed by a mob at Bazartand on June 29, 2017, when he was carrying 200 kg of meat) and Latehar (where 32-year-old cattle trader Mazloom Ansari and his business partner’s 11-year-old-son Imtiaz Khan were mercilessly beaten and hanged from a tree by cow vigilantes in Jhabar village on March 18, 2016).
But in both cases, all the convicts are out on bail.
Governor returns the anti-lynching bill
Jharkhand Governor Ramesh Bais on March 18 returned the Prevention of Mob Violence and Mob Lynching Bill, 2021, which was passed by the Assembly during the winter session in December last year, asking the government to reconsider the definition of ‘mob’.
The bill was sent back with two specific recommendations, reported the Hindustan Times, quoting two government officials who told the daily that the definition of ‘mob’ as given in section 2(vi) of the bill needed to be reconsidered as a group of two or more individuals cannot be called a tumultuous crowd.
“The definition of a mob does not align with the well-defined legal lexicon or glossary. A mob is a large, angry, and disorderly crowd of people who are often uncontrollable or violent. Therefore, the state must visit the definition,” said the official, quoting from the observation note.
The other suggestion to the government, reported the newspaper, is related to rectification to bring the Hindi and English versions of the bill in symmetry.
“There is a mismatch between Hindi and English versions of the bill. Sub-clause xii in Sub-section 1 of Section 2 deals with the ‘witness protection scheme’ in the English version of the bill. This Sub-clause xii is missing in the Hindi version,” the officials have been quoted as saying.
The bill has a provision of punishment for ‘enforcing a hostile environment’, ‘attempt, conspiracy, or abetment to lynch’, ‘dissemination of offensive material’, and ‘obstructing legal process’ in addition to compensation for the victims as per the ‘compensation scheme’ of the state government.
The bill also has provisions for jail terms ranging from three years to life imprisonment and fines of up to Rs 25 lakh against those involved in mob lynchings leading to “injury or death” of an individual.
Jharkhand is the third state after West Bengal and Rajasthan to have passed a bill against the crime.
The Opposition (the Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP) had opposed the bill, demanding that it must be sent to a select committee for review. The main objection of the BJP to the bill was the definition of the word ‘mob’.
However, the bill was passed and sent to the governor for assent.
The bill is also being opposed by tribal community members who under the banner of ‘Janjati Suraksha Manch’ met the governor on February 11, requesting him not to give his nod to the proposed law.
They argue that the bill would undermine the special provisions in place for the tribal community by the Centre and state governments.
Lynchings are not specifically recognized crimes under the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Sections 302 (murder) or 141 (unlawful assembly) are often used in such cases.
The Supreme Court of India on July 17, 2018, passed strict guidelines to put a check on the new form of targeted mob violence.