Patna: A cattle trader named Mohammad Jamal was beaten to death in a village in Katihar district of Bihar on November 12, in yet another case of mob lynching in the state. The murder has triggered protests by locals, but police are yet to arrest any accused in the case.
In his early 40s, Jamal was a resident of Hajipur village under Katihar mufassil police station.
Jamal and his younger brother, Mohammad Kamal, were on their way to a cattle bazaar, Kumaidpur Haat, on Tuesday when they were attacked by a mob—after the two refused to pay extortion demanded by them for carrying cattle.
“We were taking our cattle to a cattle market in neighbouring West Bengal, when some people stopped us and demanded extortion for transporting cattle. But we refused, after which they attacked my brother with iron rods, bamboo sticks, etc. I managed to escape and hid in a nearby paddy field,” Kamal told Newsclick.
Jamal was left bleeding and unconscious with critical head injuries, and the mob fled. “After that we rushed Jamal to Katihar Medical College and Hospital, but he succumbed to his injuries soon after,” said Kamal.
Also read: Fear of Mob-Lynching Continues to Haunt Bihar
In his written statement to the local police, Kamal said the crime took place near Babpur village close to NH 81 under Roshna police outpost.
An FIR has been filed against four accused who have been named—one Sagar Yadav and his three sons—on the basis of Kamal’s statement, said Roshna police outpost in-charge Sanjay Kumar Singh.
Singh said police had recovered 12 bulls belonging to the victim, but no arrest has been made so far. Police are trying to locate the accused, who are absconding.
Kamal told Newsclick that some groups of criminals in the guise of gau-rakshaks (cow vigilantes) had been demanding and collecting extortion from cattle traders in broad daylight. “We are poor traders and earn our livelihood through cattle trade alone. We cannot afford to pay extortion but there is no other way, because the local police do not seem to care,” said Kamal.
Jamal was the father of five children, all minors, and the sole bread earner of his family.
Infuriated by the mob lynching, hundreds of villagers blocked NH 81 for more than four hours on Tuesday, burning tyres and shouting slogans against the state government.
Opposition RJD leader Samrendar Kunal said the victim’s family should be given a compensation of Rs 10 lakh and the accused be arrested. “We have information that some gangs are demanding extortion from cattle traders, but police hardly take any action against them. If police had kept a check on such gangs, Jamal would not have been killed,” he said.
However, Katihar DSP Anil Kumar claimed that Jamal’s murder was not a case of lynching. Kumar said it was a murder that followed a heated exchange of words between the victimised cattle trader and the accused over congestion of road due to the carrying of cattle.
Earlier this year, three people suspected to be cattle thieves were beaten to death at a village in Bihar’s Saran district in the early hours of July 19.
Also read: Three Cattle Traders Lynched by Mob in Bihar
A mob caught hold of four people, who were travelling a pick-up van to purchase cattle, and accused them of being cattle thieves in Pithori Nandlal village under Baniyapur police station in Saran. While three of them were killed, the fourth victim sustained serious injuries and is battling for his life in a government hospital. The deceased were identified as Naushad Quraishi, Raju Nut and Videsh Nut.
Since then, opposition leaders have raised the issue of mob lynching in the state Assembly and demanded that the Nitish Kumar government enact a law to end mob lynching in the state.
Over the past two and a half months, at least 39 incidents of mob lynching in Bihar have been reported, with at least 15 people having been killed and 45 people grievously injured. However, the NDA government led by Nitish Kumar is not yet ready to enact a law to prevent incidents of mob lynching.
As per the police, till date FIRs have been registered against 348 named accused and 4,000 unidentified persons in cases of mob lynching in the state while 278 people have been arrested based on video footage.
However, several incidents of mob lynching, especially in rural areas, continue to go unreported.