A huge crowd gathered outside a trial court in Ramgarh in favour of 11 self-styled ‘Gau Rakshaks’ chanted slogans such as ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, leading to a commotion. The cow vigilantes were on March 16 found guilty of lynching to death a Muslim meat trader – Alimuddin Ansari – and were sentenced to life imprisonment on March 21.
As the crowd began swelling up, the administration soon called additional police forces to control the situation.
Additional District Judge-II Om Prakash awarded the life sentence to 11 of the 12 convicts after hearing both sides on the quantum of punishment. The court has not given any decision on the 12th accused, who is a juvenile.
The court has also directed the district services legal authority to initiate proceedings for ensuring adequate compensation to the victim’s family.
The 11 convicted include Nitayanand Mahto – district media cell in-charge of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), besides at least three members of the local Gau Raksha Samiti – Santosh Singh, Deepak Mishra and Chhotu Verma. The others are Uttam Kumar, Kapil Thakur, Vikram Prasad, Raju Kumar, Vicky Saw and Sikander Ram.
Fifty-five-year-old Alimuddin Ansari aka Asghar Ali was beaten to death at Bazartand in Ramgarh town on June 29, last year by a mob led by members of a local Gau Raksha Samiti for allegedly carrying beef. The mob had also set his vehicle ablaze. Alimuddin, the investigators had said, was coming in his van carrying meat from Chitarpur area of Ramgarh on that fateful day.
He was followed by one of the accused, Raju Kumar, a new recruit to the Gau Raksha Samiti, who kept informing the others about Ansari’s location. His van was later intercepted near a gas agency in Ramgarh Police Station area, where the mob gathered and beat him up.
The incident occurred a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had decried people taking the law into their hands in the name of ‘gau raksha’.
This is the first case of cow vigilantism in the country where the accused persons have been convicted and punished.
Welcoming the final verdict, Alimuddin’s younger son Shahban Ansari told Newsclick, “We are satisfied with the judgement. We are thankful to the court that it listened to our prayers and ordered for compensation as well.”
“My father was the sole breadwinner for the family. Many people and officials had come to us and made hollow promises. But we never got any compensation. Even the government did not give any compensation to our family,” he said when asked about the financial assistance the court directed the authorities concerned to extend.
Reacting to the sentencing of 11 accused persons in the case, Alimuddin’s widow Mariam Khatun had earlier told Newsclick, “Though they murdered my husband, I don’t want them to lose their lives. I would prefer the court give them life imprisonment. We want to live in peace with the family and the society.”
The Jharkhand High Court last year constituted a special fast-track court presided over by Additional District Judge Om Prakash to try the case on a day-to-day basis.
Jharkhand, which is being ruled by the BJP, has witnessed a series of lynching of Muslim cattle traders in the months of May and June.
The issue had also rocked Parliament with several opposition leaders questioning the government’s seriousness in taming the frenetic mobs.
Facing criticism from all corners, Chief Minister Raghubar Das had warned officer-in-charge of police stations that they would lose their jobs if any case of mob lynching was reported from their area.