In yet another case of mob lynching in Bihar, three suspected cattle thieves were beaten to death in a village in Saran district in the early hours of Friday, July 19.
Four suspected cattle thieves were allegedly caught by an angry mob in Pithori Nandlal village under Baniyapur police station in Saran when the victims were on their way in a pick up van to purchase cattle. While three of them were beaten to death, the fourth victim sustained serious injuries and is battling for his life in the government hospital.
The victims have been identified as Naushad Quraishi, Raju Nut and Videsh Nut. The name of seriously injured has not been disclosed by police so far.
According to a local activist,who wanted to remain anonymous, some workers of the right-wing Hindutva forces had been spreading rumours of cattle thieves since the last two days in the village. He said, “As a result, when the victims were passing through the village in a vehicle, some of the villagers sounded the alarms suspecting them to be cattle thieves. Immediately, dozens of villagers gathered at the place, caught them and started beating them. They were beaten with bamboo sticks, iron rods and bricks till they lost consciousness and three of them died.”
He told NewsClick that it is clearly an incident of mob lynching as victims were beaten to death on the mere suspicion of cattle thieves.
Also read: Nine Mob Lynching Cases across 8 States Despite SC Warning
Some local residents told visiting reporters that three were thrashed and their heads were hit with bricks and bamboo sticks. There were signs of deep cuts on their face, head and even on throat as some had tried to slit them.
However, Saran Superintendent of Police Hari Kishore Rai said that even though three suspected cattle thieves were beaten to death by some villagers, it was not a case of mob lynching. He said, “After villagers caught the victims on suspicion of cattle thieves, they were beaten badly and they died on the way to hospital.”
Rai said police have arrested three villagers in relation to the case. He also said that the bodies have been sent for post mortem examination to Sadar hospital in the district headquarter, Chapra. The police have lodged a case of murder against some named and some unidentified villagers.
Family members of the victims, belonging to Paigambarpur and Kanhauli localities in Chapra, have refuted the police claim that three of them had gone to the village to steal cattle. “They were going in a pick up van to purchase cattle on Friday morning. They were not cattle thieves,” Hasan Quraishi, a relative of one of the victims told NewsClick.
Hundreds of people from Paigambarpur and Kanhauli staged protest in front of Sadar hospital, where bodies of victims were kept, and raised slogans against the government and local police. The protesting people have demanded urgent action against the accused and justice for the victims.
According to police, some angry relatives had allegedly caught a man from Pithori Nandlal village in the hospital and were beating him but he was rescued by the police.
The Opposition including Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress and Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) [CPI(ML)] MLAs and MLCs raised the issue of mob lynching in the Bihar Assembly on Friday, soon after they were informed about the incident. “The three people who were beaten to death are victims of mob lynching. We know that the government will give a different colour to it to save its skin,” Congress MLC Premchand Mishra said.
Senior RJD MLA Abdul Bari Siddiqui said this latest mob lynching incident has again exposed the reality behind the claims of rule of law in Bihar by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi.
Also read: Opposition Demands Enactment of Law Against Mob Lynchings in Bihar
Opposition leaders said that just last week they had raised the issue of mob lynching in the state in the state Assembly and demanded that the Nitish Kumar-led government enact a law to check and control mob lynching in the state.
"We had staged a protest against the mob lynching incidents in Bihar and across the country, but the government ignored our concern," CPI (ML) MLA Mahboob Alam said.
This incident has come as an embarrassment for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who claims to have brought 'sushasan' or good governance to Bihar. In rural Bihar, incidence of 'mob justice' have become common. In the last six and half months, over two dozen lynching incidents have been reported from the state.