Another cattle trader killed: Bihar’s losing count of lynchings

Muhammad Jamal was attacked late on Monday night while he was taking a dozen cows and bullocks on foot towards Kumedpur

Cattle traders

Muhammad Jamal, a trader, taking cattle to sell at a weekly market has been lynched to death in Bihar’s Katihar district, The Telegraph reported. He was attacked late on Monday night on Labha Bridge by a group when he was in the process of transporting 18 cows and bullocks on foot towards Kumedpur.

Jamal who was accompanied by his brother Muhammad Kamal and two others, who managed to escape. The crowd claims that Jamal’s cattle hit a motorcycle belonging to one of their members, following which he was thrashed.

Reports say that he was beaten to death for refusing to pay extortion money by the miscreants, namely Sagar Yadav and Liladhar Yadav, who demanded money from them near the Labha bridge.

A First Information Report (FIR) has been registered against Liladhar Yadav, two of his brother and his father Sagar Yadav, Katihar Sadar, Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Anil Kumar said.

Police said the murder was the result of personal enmity. “One Liladhar Yadav, who was previously engaged in cattle trade and had enmity with Jamal, is involved in the incident. He, along with his associates, thrashed Jamal to death on the pretext that a motorcycle belonging to them was hit by the cattle,” Katihar SP Vikash Kumar told The Telegraph.

Meanwhile, people blocked the Katihar-Gerabari NH 31 on Tuesday to protest the killing and demanded that a compensation of Rs 25 lakh be paid to the family of the deceased and that the accused be arrested immediately.

However, the police had made no arrest till late Tuesday evening.

Nitish Kumar’s frivolity

From July to September, Bihar saw 39 cases of mob attacks and lynchings being registered. In these attacks, 14 people have died and 45 have been grievously injured. A good number of these cases were based on rumours of child lifting.

Bihar does not have a specific law to tackle lynching. All that Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar has said that those who have been accused in these cases will not be eligible for government jobs, and those accused who already hold one, will be removed.

Police officials said 278 people have been arrested in 39 incidents since July. With the help of video footage, action is being taken by marking people involved in mob lynching.

The Wire reported additional DGP, CID Vinay Kumar as saying, “In mob lynching cases, we often book unidentified people. We are now focusing more on identifying faces in the crowd with help of video footage gathered through media and local people. The objective is to ensure that people do not take law in their hands.”

“In recent cases, over 2,000 unknown people are booked. Despite several warnings, people continued to take law in their hands because of unfounded rumours,” he added. That is why the decision to make government jobs and contracts conditional was reached.

Why the lynchings continue unabated

While three states, namely West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have passed ‘anti-lynching’ bills in their Assembly, they lie gathering dust on the President’s table.

In July 2018, the Supreme Court had passed directives urging that the Parliament enact a law to deal with lynchings, the crime that “threatens rule of law and the country’s social fabric. It has also passed an 11 point prescription which included state governments designating a nodal officer for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.

While the non-implementation of these guidelines is a major factor in the unceasing events, it is also the attitude of the police that matters in abating such occurrences. A report by Delhi-based NGO Common Cause and Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) showed that 35% of police personnel interviewed thought it was natural for the mob to punish the ‘culprit’ in cases of cow slaughter.

This also explains why – as revealed by a report published in 2017 – the police registered cases against the victims and survivors of mob lynchings in 30% of the cases, and why, in 5% of the attacks, no report of the attackers being arrested was recorded.

Another issue is the issue of instant justice being served. The mob claiming themselves to be duty bound to preserve their religion and beliefs, has made them monstrous in their approach of delivering justice. With rising right-wing nationalism, the spread of Islamophobia by fascists and the already existing, deeply ingrained caste hierarchy, the largely nationalistic mob seems like it is out to get Muslims, Dalits, tribals and whoever doesn’t fit their version of ‘right’.

Hate crimes have increased to 60% against Muslims, and the report by CSDS shows the deep-seated bias in the minds of the people when it says that 50% of the cops feel that Muslims are naturally prone to crime.

The heightened ‘ignorance is bliss’ approach and a lack of accountability on the part of the administration, the police and the people in power, is going to only foster and bolster the occurrence of such events.

The reason a judiciary exists, is because the concept of ‘instant’ justice is flawed. It is time that the murderous mob is questioned for its actions or for slowly chipping away at democracy.



Lynch Nation: A documentary that makes you confront lynch mob survivors

How MASUKA, a draft law against lynching, went from being popular to being forgotten

Cows are safer in Modi’s India than Muslims

How the govt’s inaction over cattle trade rules allowed cow vigilantism to thrive

2017 Deadliest Year For Cow-Related Hate Crime Since 2010, 86% Of Those Killed Muslim

Child-Lifting Rumours: 33 Killed In 69 Mob Attacks Since Jan 2017. Before That Only 1 Attack In 2012



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