Right-wing forces are making efforts to deepen communal polarisation in the Jharkhand village where the mob lynching of 22-year-old Tabrez Ansari took place. Ansari was brutally thrashed at Dhatkidih village, 35 km from Jamshedpur, in Saraikela-Kharsawan district of Jharkhand in the wee hours of June 18 for allegedly stealing a bike and died in police custody on June 22.
Young men are allegedly holding meetings with villagers and saying that police are harassing them for punishing a thief.
“In social posts, they are saying that an incident is being dubbed as mob lynching, which is deplorable. There is an atmosphere of fear in the village and people are fleeing. We have assured the villagers that the BJP family is with them in all their happiness and sorrow. If someone conspires to defame Hindus and Hindutva, we won’t let them get success,” said a social media post, as quoted in a fact-finding report prepared by the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, which visited Kadamidiha and Dhatkidih villages in Kharsawan block.
They are asking people not to worry as “Sab Jai Shri Ram hai. Ghabrane ki baat nahi hai (there is nothing to worry about as Lord Ram is the saviour)”.
Narrating an incident, the report states that the fact-finding team stopped at Dhatkidih village and met a few women and men sitting by the roadside. The women shared that they were scared as the police, who were searching for the people who thrashed Tabrez, were camping at a local school.
While the women were sharing the information about the incident with the team, the report said, “Suddenly, a group of young men came in the village on a few motorcycles and a car. They stopped at the spot where the fact-finding team members were talking to the women. They got down and started asking the women if the security forces were harassing them. Then they told the women, ‘Sab Jai Shri Ram hai. Ghabrane ki baat nahi hai’. The women looked scared and said, ‘Humlog Jai Shri Ram aur Jai Hanuman waale hain (we belong to Jai Shri Ram and Jai Hanuman)’. The men told the women that they had come to support the villagers. They were being harassed for punishing a thief. They kept telling the villagers that if a thief comes to steal, people would definitely not kiss him, but give him apt punishment. One of them also said that a ‘thief has no religion’. He is neither a Hindu nor a Muslim; therefore, making him chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ was not wrong. They were trying to mobilise the villagers in the name of religion.”
According to the report, the men asked members of the fact-finding team their names and about their work and tried to “indirectly intimidate” them. “They took photographs and videos with the security forces deputed in the village. Even though the team wanted to discuss more with the people of Dhatkidih, it had to leave because of the actions of the young men,” the report said.
Also read: Jharkhand’s 14th Lynching in Four Years, Country’s 266th
Upon further investigation on social media by the fact-finding team, the report alleged that one of the young men (who was leading the others) was a member of the ruling party (the Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP). The group held a meeting with the villagers after the fact-finding team left the village, the report claims.
‘Deceased Was Made to Drink Dhatura, a Poisonous Weed’
Tabrez and his wife were staying at his in-laws’ house in Behrasai village in Kharsawan since a few days preceding June 17. He had gone to his relative’s place in Jamshedpur on June 17 with two others, Irfan and Umar Ali.
According to Tabrez’s uncle, Mohammad Masroor Alam, the victim and the two boys went to Jamshedpur on a bike, which probably belongs to one of the two boys accompanying the deceased. At around 10 p.m, he called his wife to say that he was coming back but did not return that night. In the morning, she got a call from Tabrez, who told her that he was being thrashed at Dhatkidih village and pleaded with her to help him. She informed his immediate family members, including his uncles.
On their way back from Jamshedpur, according to Alam, Tabrez and the two boys were stopped in Dhatkidih village by a few men who asked him for his name. He introduced himself as Sonu. They asked him for his actual name. When he said Tabrez Ansari, they caught him, while the other two managed to run away, and started beating him up.
“He was later tied to a pole and beaten further. When he asked for water, he was given dhatura (a poisonous weed) to drink and dhatura leaves were stuffed in his mouth,” Alam alleged.
‘Itna Maare The, Tab Bhi Abhi Tak Zinda Hai?’
“Itna maare the, tab bhi abhi tak zinda hai? (we beat you up so much, yet you are still alive?)”, prime accused Pappu Mandal asked Tabrez at Kharsawan police station where the 22-year-old was locked up after being thrashed on charges of stealing a bike, alleged his uncle.
Also read: Public Protest Against Mob Lynching and Inaction of Jharkhand Police
After getting the information about Tabrez being beaten up, his uncle Alam along with other relatives went to the local police station to look for him. They could not find him in the Kharsawan police station and then went to Saraikela police station. Tabrez was in the lock-up. They found him to be severely injured.
“He was bleeding from his nose, mouth and head. He also had cut marks on his fingers. The police told us that he was caught for stealing,” he said.
Alam said he told the police station in-charge, Bipin Bihari Singh, that Tabrez needed immediate medical help. “We also said that we are ready to cooperate with the police in its inquiry but Tabrez should first be taken to a hospital. Singh told me, ‘Yahan se bhaago nahi to tumhara bhi haath-paon tod ke tumko jail mein daal denge’ (Run away from here, or else I will break your hands and legs too and put you in jail). We got scared and left the police station.”
The next day (June 19), the relatives were informed that Tabrez was shifted to the local jail. They went there to meet him. He was brought out by two policemen who were holding him. He was still severely injured and weak, according to his relatives. Despite multiple requests, they alleged, he was not given adequate medical treatment.
“On June 22, I was informed by an acquaintance that Tabrez was admitted in Saraikela Sadar hospital. We went there and found that there was foaming at the mouth. The doctor told us that Tabrez was dead. When a local reporter checked the body, she found that he was still breathing. Upon hearing this, we shouted at the doctor. He then referred Tabrez to Tata Medical Hospital, Jamshedpur. When we reached the hospital, he was no more,” Alam said.
Following his death, the family members lodged a case against Pappu Mandal and others for lynching Tabrez.
Police Doubt Lynching Video
The Jharkhand police has sent the video footage of the brutal lynching for forensic examination. “Prima facie, the video appears to have been tampered with. The audio and video are not synchronous and hence to jump to conclusions without knowing the authenticity of the video footage would not be wise,” said Jharkhand DGP Kamal Nayan Choubey.
ADG Ashish Batra said action would be taken against those who spread such videos without verifying their veracity.
Five persons have been arrested on the charge of thrashing Tabrez and two police officials have been suspended two for dereliction of duty.