New Delhi: Two and half months after an Adivasi man in Jharkhand’s Jurmu village was lynched to death and three others severely injured by a mob from the neighbouring Jairagi village on the suspicion of cow slaughter, neither the police nor administration have anything to show by way of action taken except, incredibly, an FIR against the victims of the beating.
Hundreds of villagers from the districts of Gumla, Ranchi and Latehar on Monday attended a protest organised by the Kendriya Jan Sangharsh Samiti in front of the office of the Gumla deputy commissioner, against the alleged apathy of police in apprehending those responsible for the lynching on April 10 in Dumri block.
On that day, Prakash Lakda, a 50-year-old Adivasi man from Jurmu, had allegedly been requested by the owner of a dead ox to carve it. Prakash, along with a few others, set to work. In a while, nearly 40 people gathered at the site, all of them from Jairagi village. The Jairagi mob set themselves upon the Adivasi men, beating them for hours.
The Wire previously reported the findings of a team of rights activists under the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha collective. The report found that the mob had chanted slogans like “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Bajrang Bali” while beating the Adivasis and forced them to chant the slogans too.
The report said all the four victims “were beaten all the way to Jairagi chowk, about a kilometre away from the place where the violence started”. After being beaten for around three hours, the victims were dumped by the perpetrators in front of the Dumri police station at around midnight.
The report said instead of rushing the victims to hospital, the police made them wait in the cold for around four hours. While Prakash died, three others, Peter Kerketta, Belarius Minj and Janerius Minj were severely injured.
It is these three and the nearly 20 other Adivasi survivors of the lynching against whom cow slaughter charges have been drawn up. The victims have allegedly told police repeatedly that it was a dead ox they were carving. In rural Jharkhand, Adivasis consume meat of dead cows and oxen.
The FIR and several discrepancies in the police’s report seem to overwhelmingly suggest bias against the victims.
A press statement issued by the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha noted that the Gumla district court has rejected the anticipatory bail filed by the victims for reasons that have much to do with administrative machinations. “The court order clarifies that police did not include the testimonies of the residents of Jurmu in the case diary. Even the testimony of the dead ox owner has not been recorded properly by the police. The facts have been recorded in a distorted manner in favour of the perpetrators of lynching,” the group writes in the statement.
Neither the Mahasabha’s fact-finding report, nor a protest by villagers under the aegis of the Samiti on May 31 could trigger any action. Meanwhile, Jurmu villagers, who had been advised by the local administration to stop supplying mud to a brick kiln being operated by a Jairangi resident, have discovered that the advice has only cornered them further.
The brick kiln owner has allegedly warned Jurmu residents with the line, “khoon ki nadiyan baha denge” (rivers of blood will flow). Adivasi children from Jurmu are allegedly now being denied water from a public hand pump at Jairagi Chowk.
The villagers’ protests come on a day when news of the passing of 22-year-old Tabrez Ansari, who was attacked by a mob in Jharkhand, has taken social media by storm.
In a video of the attack which took place on June 18 in Dhatkidih village of the state’s Seraikela Kharsawan district, the mob which had suspected that he was a thief, can be heard forcing Ansari to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman”. He can be seen pleading with the mob to stop. The police’s report on this incident says villagers handed Ansari over to them but makes no mention of the fact that he had been attacked.