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Kalna Lynching case: 12 get life term

The Kalna District Court sentenced 12 persons to imprisonment till death

Sabrangindia 13 Nov 2019

kalna Lynching

Additional District and Session Judge Tapan Kumar Mondal, of the Kalna Court in Burdwan, West Bengal sentenced 12 persons to life imprisonment till death in the case of the Kalna lynchings that took place in 2017, The Telegraph reported.

The accused, including a woman were involved in the lynching of two labourers on suspicion of child lifting.


On January 20, 2017, five persons from Nadia’s Raghabpur village had come to Kalna to spray pesticide on trees. A group of detained the workers, suspecting them to be child lifters. The five showed their identity cards but still, the local people beat them up with sticks, tree branches and iron rods. Two, out of the five people died in the incident.

Anil Biswas, 40, died on the way to Burdwan Medical College and Hospital. Another worker, Narayan Das, 35, succumbed to injuries at a Kolkata hospital later. The three others later recovered from the injuries.

“Police filed a chargesheet against 26 persons. The court sentenced 12 persons, including a woman, to imprisonment till death,” assistant public prosecutor Bikash Roy said.

“The judge has asked the district legal aid authority to give proper compensation to the families of the deceased,” Roy added.

The court said the life imprisonment was being handed out to the convicts to give a message to the society against lynching.

In the matter, a mob had set a Kalna-bound bus on fire and brick batted police force on NH 34 at Habibpur in Nadia district to protest against the lynchings demanding arrest for the accused and compensation for the family of the victims.

In 2019, after Manipur and Rajasthan, the West Bengal Assembly had passed an ‘anti-lynching’ bill, the legislation for which was introduced by CM Mamata Banerjee. It was supported by the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist). But, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) remained silent on the matter, as per usual, neither supporting nor opposing the bill.

According to the bill, those found guilty of assisting or interfering with the accused will be punished with imprisonment of up to three years and fined a maximum Rs 1 lakh. It also proposes a maximum one-year jail term and a fine up to Rs 50,000 for “publishing, communicating or disseminating offensive material by any method – physical or electronic”. Those who create “a hostile environment for a person or a group of persons” face maximum prison term of three years and fine up to Rs 1 lakh.

These anti-lynching bills have yet to become laws.

Last year, in December 2018, the First Class Judicial Magistrate Rishikesh Kumar had sentenced eight men to life imprisonment in a case related to the killing and hanging of two men Majlum Ansari (32) and Imtiaz Khan (12), in March 2016.

In March 2018, a fast track court in Ramgarh on Wednesday sentenced 11 people, including a BJP leader, to life imprisonment for lynching a meat trader over the suspicion that he was carrying beef in his car.

According to IndiaSpend, there have been about 129 cases of mob lynchings in India since 2012, leading to about 47 deaths in which 56% of the victims have been Muslims and 9%, Dalits. While such decisions from courts are small wars that are won, there is always a chance of further appeals with the option of the perpetrator walking away scot-free. In the latest gaffe by the government, rather a deliberate move to cover up its inefficiency in the matter of taking stringent action, the National Crime Records Bureau has withheld data on lynchings and convictions for the year 2017 and onwards citing information gathered to be ‘vague’.


Related:

Three State Anti-Lynching Bills gather dust on President Kovind’s table
Jharkhand becomes ‘lynching capital’, records one more death by mob violence
Under BJP Govt, Data Comes to Delhi… and Dies
Dalit youths stripped, flogged after altercation with restaurant owner: Ahmedabad

 

Kalna Lynching case: 12 get life term

The Kalna District Court sentenced 12 persons to imprisonment till death

kalna Lynching

Additional District and Session Judge Tapan Kumar Mondal, of the Kalna Court in Burdwan, West Bengal sentenced 12 persons to life imprisonment till death in the case of the Kalna lynchings that took place in 2017, The Telegraph reported.

The accused, including a woman were involved in the lynching of two labourers on suspicion of child lifting.


On January 20, 2017, five persons from Nadia’s Raghabpur village had come to Kalna to spray pesticide on trees. A group of detained the workers, suspecting them to be child lifters. The five showed their identity cards but still, the local people beat them up with sticks, tree branches and iron rods. Two, out of the five people died in the incident.

Anil Biswas, 40, died on the way to Burdwan Medical College and Hospital. Another worker, Narayan Das, 35, succumbed to injuries at a Kolkata hospital later. The three others later recovered from the injuries.

“Police filed a chargesheet against 26 persons. The court sentenced 12 persons, including a woman, to imprisonment till death,” assistant public prosecutor Bikash Roy said.

“The judge has asked the district legal aid authority to give proper compensation to the families of the deceased,” Roy added.

The court said the life imprisonment was being handed out to the convicts to give a message to the society against lynching.

In the matter, a mob had set a Kalna-bound bus on fire and brick batted police force on NH 34 at Habibpur in Nadia district to protest against the lynchings demanding arrest for the accused and compensation for the family of the victims.

In 2019, after Manipur and Rajasthan, the West Bengal Assembly had passed an ‘anti-lynching’ bill, the legislation for which was introduced by CM Mamata Banerjee. It was supported by the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist). But, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) remained silent on the matter, as per usual, neither supporting nor opposing the bill.

According to the bill, those found guilty of assisting or interfering with the accused will be punished with imprisonment of up to three years and fined a maximum Rs 1 lakh. It also proposes a maximum one-year jail term and a fine up to Rs 50,000 for “publishing, communicating or disseminating offensive material by any method – physical or electronic”. Those who create “a hostile environment for a person or a group of persons” face maximum prison term of three years and fine up to Rs 1 lakh.

These anti-lynching bills have yet to become laws.

Last year, in December 2018, the First Class Judicial Magistrate Rishikesh Kumar had sentenced eight men to life imprisonment in a case related to the killing and hanging of two men Majlum Ansari (32) and Imtiaz Khan (12), in March 2016.

In March 2018, a fast track court in Ramgarh on Wednesday sentenced 11 people, including a BJP leader, to life imprisonment for lynching a meat trader over the suspicion that he was carrying beef in his car.

According to IndiaSpend, there have been about 129 cases of mob lynchings in India since 2012, leading to about 47 deaths in which 56% of the victims have been Muslims and 9%, Dalits. While such decisions from courts are small wars that are won, there is always a chance of further appeals with the option of the perpetrator walking away scot-free. In the latest gaffe by the government, rather a deliberate move to cover up its inefficiency in the matter of taking stringent action, the National Crime Records Bureau has withheld data on lynchings and convictions for the year 2017 and onwards citing information gathered to be ‘vague’.


Related:

Three State Anti-Lynching Bills gather dust on President Kovind’s table
Jharkhand becomes ‘lynching capital’, records one more death by mob violence
Under BJP Govt, Data Comes to Delhi… and Dies
Dalit youths stripped, flogged after altercation with restaurant owner: Ahmedabad

 

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Bloody Halloween: When evil spirits came to life on the streets of India

Gurpreet Singh 31 Oct 2019
When I moved to Canada in 2001 as an immigrant from India, little did I know about Halloween.

Anti sikh riots
Image Courtesy: AFP

All I knew was that the kids go door to door on this day and ask for candies. This is no different than Lohri – a festival of bonfire celebrated in January each year in Punjab. The children go home to home asking for treats. Cool!

As our first Halloween came that year my curiosity grew seeing madness for scary costumes. I did some research and found that it was one way of warding off evil spirits that come to the earth at that time and children dress themselves up like monsters to keep them away so that they consider them as one of their own. Obviously, this is all superstitious, but it has a complete different meaning for someone like me. It’s mainly because of an unforgettable and ill-fated date of October 31 that coincides with something more horrific done to my people 35 years ago.

On this day in 1984, then-Prime Minister of Indira Gandhi was assassinated at her official residence in New Delhi by her Sikh bodyguards who were outraged at the military invasion on their holiest place, the Golden Temple Complex in Amritsar. The controversial army operation was ordered by Gandhi in June that year to deal with handful of Sikh militants who could have been otherwise forced to surrender by using other means. Accusing the extremists of committing violence and taking refuge in the shrine, the government of India used its military might to suppress Sikh movement for autonomy of Punjab and equal rights for the minority community. The intent was to polarize the Hindu majority in the name of national unity in the impending general election.

The ill-conceived military attack left many pilgrims dead and historically important buildings inside the complex heavily destroyed. This had enraged the Sikhs all over the world and resulted into the death of Gandhi.

As soon as the news of Gandhi’s murder spread, the violent mobs started organizing against the Sikhs. The members of the slain leader’s ruling Congress party instigated Hindus to avenge her death by targeting innocent Sikhs. As a result, in the national capital of New Delhi alone, close to 3,000 Sikhs were slaughtered. Their women were gang raped. The Sikhs were also murdered in other parts of India under the watch of police. Years have passed, but there is hardly any justice done, barring the conviction of lone former Congress MP Sajjan Kumar and that too in 2018.

The accountability of Indira’s son Rajeev Gandhi – who later took over as the next Prime Minister, was never established, although all signs indicate that he was directly complicit in the genocide that actually helped him to win the December 1984 election with a brute majority on the slogan of national unity and by demonizing the Sikh community.  

The bloodshed of the Sikhs had begun while people in Canada were celebrating Halloween. Those who were dressed up like monsters to ward off evil spirits had no realization what was going on in another part of the world. The evil spirits had actually come alive to go after Sikhs. The international community largely remained indifferent to the massacre. It was seen as a natural reaction to the death of a towering leader, whereas it was not. A state sponsored act of terror was completely overlooked, leave aside the question of slapping sanctions against India.

The issue is relevant even more today as the fight for justice continues, while the massacre has set a culture of impunity in the world’s so called largest democracy. This had encouraged the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi to use a similar experiment against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002. Modi who is the leader of right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) was the Chief Minister of the state back then. He is widely blamed for the violence that followed the burning of a train carrying Hindu pilgrims. Over 50 passengers had died in the incident that was instantly blamed on Muslims by the BJP following which large scale violence was orchestrated against the community across Gujarat. This paid electoral dividends to Modi in the next assembly election.  

Fast forward to 2019. Early this year, a suicide attack by a Kashmiri militant had left close to 40 soldiers dead in Pulwama following which the BJP and its supporters started harassing Kashmiris all across India. The attack was blamed on Kashmir based political extremists who have been fighting for right to self-determination. BJP that is known for its hawkish position on Kashmir used every tool in its toolbox to turn Hindus against Kashmiri Muslims in the wake of Pulwama episode. And despite poor performance of Modi government on many fronts since he first became the Prime Minister in 2014, he won another majority in the May 2019 election. Much like 1984 and 2002, Pulwama episode gave breather to those in power.

Emboldened by the mandate given to him by the Indian voters, Modi government arbitrarily abrogated special status given to Kashmir in August 5 and turned the entire state into an open jail. The lockdown continues even though three months have passed.

On this Halloween while we enjoy our treats and have fun with our families and children, it’s necessary to take a moment to remember those claimed by evil spirited politicians 35 years ago and later on. This is the least we can do to first educate ourselves about this dark chapter of the history and pressure our elected officials here to stand up for the minorities who are being persecuted in India with no fear of the outside world. It’s a shame that Canada that claims to be a human rights leader in the world has remained silent over what is going on in Kashmir and growing attacks on religious minorities under Modi. This silence needs to be broken and we all know Halloween fireworks can’t do this. We all need to raise our voices to make this happen. 

 

Bloody Halloween: When evil spirits came to life on the streets of India

When I moved to Canada in 2001 as an immigrant from India, little did I know about Halloween.

Anti sikh riots
Image Courtesy: AFP

All I knew was that the kids go door to door on this day and ask for candies. This is no different than Lohri – a festival of bonfire celebrated in January each year in Punjab. The children go home to home asking for treats. Cool!

As our first Halloween came that year my curiosity grew seeing madness for scary costumes. I did some research and found that it was one way of warding off evil spirits that come to the earth at that time and children dress themselves up like monsters to keep them away so that they consider them as one of their own. Obviously, this is all superstitious, but it has a complete different meaning for someone like me. It’s mainly because of an unforgettable and ill-fated date of October 31 that coincides with something more horrific done to my people 35 years ago.

On this day in 1984, then-Prime Minister of Indira Gandhi was assassinated at her official residence in New Delhi by her Sikh bodyguards who were outraged at the military invasion on their holiest place, the Golden Temple Complex in Amritsar. The controversial army operation was ordered by Gandhi in June that year to deal with handful of Sikh militants who could have been otherwise forced to surrender by using other means. Accusing the extremists of committing violence and taking refuge in the shrine, the government of India used its military might to suppress Sikh movement for autonomy of Punjab and equal rights for the minority community. The intent was to polarize the Hindu majority in the name of national unity in the impending general election.

The ill-conceived military attack left many pilgrims dead and historically important buildings inside the complex heavily destroyed. This had enraged the Sikhs all over the world and resulted into the death of Gandhi.

As soon as the news of Gandhi’s murder spread, the violent mobs started organizing against the Sikhs. The members of the slain leader’s ruling Congress party instigated Hindus to avenge her death by targeting innocent Sikhs. As a result, in the national capital of New Delhi alone, close to 3,000 Sikhs were slaughtered. Their women were gang raped. The Sikhs were also murdered in other parts of India under the watch of police. Years have passed, but there is hardly any justice done, barring the conviction of lone former Congress MP Sajjan Kumar and that too in 2018.

The accountability of Indira’s son Rajeev Gandhi – who later took over as the next Prime Minister, was never established, although all signs indicate that he was directly complicit in the genocide that actually helped him to win the December 1984 election with a brute majority on the slogan of national unity and by demonizing the Sikh community.  

The bloodshed of the Sikhs had begun while people in Canada were celebrating Halloween. Those who were dressed up like monsters to ward off evil spirits had no realization what was going on in another part of the world. The evil spirits had actually come alive to go after Sikhs. The international community largely remained indifferent to the massacre. It was seen as a natural reaction to the death of a towering leader, whereas it was not. A state sponsored act of terror was completely overlooked, leave aside the question of slapping sanctions against India.

The issue is relevant even more today as the fight for justice continues, while the massacre has set a culture of impunity in the world’s so called largest democracy. This had encouraged the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi to use a similar experiment against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002. Modi who is the leader of right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) was the Chief Minister of the state back then. He is widely blamed for the violence that followed the burning of a train carrying Hindu pilgrims. Over 50 passengers had died in the incident that was instantly blamed on Muslims by the BJP following which large scale violence was orchestrated against the community across Gujarat. This paid electoral dividends to Modi in the next assembly election.  

Fast forward to 2019. Early this year, a suicide attack by a Kashmiri militant had left close to 40 soldiers dead in Pulwama following which the BJP and its supporters started harassing Kashmiris all across India. The attack was blamed on Kashmir based political extremists who have been fighting for right to self-determination. BJP that is known for its hawkish position on Kashmir used every tool in its toolbox to turn Hindus against Kashmiri Muslims in the wake of Pulwama episode. And despite poor performance of Modi government on many fronts since he first became the Prime Minister in 2014, he won another majority in the May 2019 election. Much like 1984 and 2002, Pulwama episode gave breather to those in power.

Emboldened by the mandate given to him by the Indian voters, Modi government arbitrarily abrogated special status given to Kashmir in August 5 and turned the entire state into an open jail. The lockdown continues even though three months have passed.

On this Halloween while we enjoy our treats and have fun with our families and children, it’s necessary to take a moment to remember those claimed by evil spirited politicians 35 years ago and later on. This is the least we can do to first educate ourselves about this dark chapter of the history and pressure our elected officials here to stand up for the minorities who are being persecuted in India with no fear of the outside world. It’s a shame that Canada that claims to be a human rights leader in the world has remained silent over what is going on in Kashmir and growing attacks on religious minorities under Modi. This silence needs to be broken and we all know Halloween fireworks can’t do this. We all need to raise our voices to make this happen. 

 

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VBA & AIMIM ensure NCP-Congress defeat in 34 seats, emerge as significant players: M’tra

Sabrangindia 26 Oct 2019

It takes money, muscle and organisation to fight an election. While the Aam Aadmi party (AAP) contested 26 seats in Maharashtra Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi (VBA) was more ambitious, it had candidates in as many as 235 of the state’s assembly seats! In 25 seats, the VBA played spoiler in the western Indian state while in another nine, the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) presence ensured the BJP-SS to win.


Image result for VBA & AIMM party symbol"
Image Courtesy: gnsnews.co.in

Is this a failure of the opposition in general to forge a common platform against the saffron alliance, or a particular case of political opportunism by the smaller players? In nine of the 25 seats where VBA impacted, it was the VB A candidate that was at number two. Arguably then a united opposition alliance may have swept up a more decisive win.

Of the nine seats in Maharashtra where  the AIMIMs presence helped the BJP-Shiv Sena to win, two of these, Chandivali and Kalina are in Mumbai! These are:

1. Sangola Seat
SHIV SENA: 99,464 votes
PWPI: 98,696:votes
AIMIM: 979 votes

Chandivali Seat
SHIV SENA: 85,879 Votes
INC: 85470 votes
AIMIM: 1167 votes

Nagpur Central
BJP: 75692 votes
INC: 71684 votes
AIMIM: 8565 votes

Pune Cantonment
BJP: 52160 votes
INC: 47148 votes
AIMIM: 6138 votes

Paithan
SHIV SENA: 83403 votes
 NCP: 69264 votes
 AIMIM: 17212 votes

Nanded North
SHIV SENA: 62884 votes
INC: 50778 votes
AIMIM: 41892 votes

Kamthi
BJP: 118182 votes
INC: 107066 votes
AIMIM + VBA:18946 votes

Kurla
SHIV SENA: 5049 votes
NCP: 34036 votes
AIMIM:  17349 votes

Kalina
SHIV SENA: 43319 votes
INC: 38388 votes
AIMIM: 2637 votes
 
In 25 seats, it was the VBA to turn spoiler. Though the VBA did not manage to win a single seat in the Maharashtra Assembly election out of the 235 seats they contested, in as many as 25 seats, the VBA made a crucial, decisive difference – a factor that could have potentially changed the overall result of the election as well.In 25 of the seats where the Congress/NCP candidate came second and the BJP/Sena candidate won, the margin of victory was smaller than the number of votes polled by the VBA.Of the 25 seats, the BJP ended up winning in 20 seats and the Shiv Sena in the other 5.

Could 34 seats have made a crucial difference?

The winning BJP-Sena alliance won 161 seats, and the Cong-NCP+ alliance, in the final tallystands at 102. If the saffron alliance had lost the 34 seats to the Opposition alliance, it would have been a close call:
 
  • BJP-Sena: 161-34= 127
  • Cong-NCP+: 102 + 34 = 136
  • Others: 25
 
The, the BJP would have dropped down to 85, and the Sena to 51. The BJP-Sena alliance would have been not just way short of the majority mark of 145 in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly, and the Opposition alliance would have been just another 9 seats behind them.
 
Who then formed the government would be left to post poll machinations and not logic or arithmetic. The race to cobble together a majority would have been wide open.
 
Where did the VBA play spoiler?
 
The constituencies where the Congress candidate came second, and the margin of victory for BJP/Shiv Sena was less than the number of votes polled by VBA are:
 
  1. Akola West - BJP
  2. Arni - BJP
  3. Ballarpur - BJP
  4. Chikhli - BJP
  5. Chimur - BJP
  6. Dhamamgaon railway - BJP
  7. Khamgaon -BJP
  8. Nagpur South - BJP
  9. Pune Cantonment - BJP
  10. Ralegaon - BJP
  11. Shivajinagar - BJP
  12. Tuljapur - BJP
  13. Yavatmal - BJP
  14. Chandivali - Shiv Sena
  15. Chembur - Shiv Sena
  16. Nanded North - Shiv Sena
 
The list below if of those seats where the NCP candidate came second, and the margin of victory for BJP/Shiv Sena was less than the number of votes polled by VBA:
 
  1. Chalisgaon - BJP
  2. Daund - BJP
  3. Georai - BJP
  4. Jintur - BJP
  5. Khadakwasala - BJP
  6. Malshiras - BJP
  7. Ulhasnagar - BJP
  8. Osmanabad - Shiv Sena
  9. Paithan - Shiv Sena
 
Interestingly, in Chimur, the Congress polled 77,394 votes and the BJP secured 87,146 votes. The victory margin for the BJP over the Congress was 9,752. Ambedkar’s VBA received 24,474 votes, thereby taking the Cong + VBA tally up to 1,01,868 votes, which is far higher than what the BJP polled.
 
In Akola West, the Congress received 70,669 votes, losing to the BJP by a small margin of 2,593 votes. The VBA, with 20,687 votes, secured more than the victory margin here as well.

In Daund, the NCP lost to the BJP by a mere 746 votes. The VBA polled a paltry 2,633 votes – but it was still more than the margin of 746.
 
VBA’s Disappointing Performance

The fledgling VBA, which contested its first Assembly election this time around, may have overreached by choosing to put up candidates in as many as 235 seats. In fact, the VBA is the party which contested the highest number of seats in Maharashtra.In hindsight, by contesting fewer seats and focusing the party’s energies on those specific constituencies it may have done better.
.
Though it won no seats, and came second in the following 9 constituencies.
  1. Akola East
  2. Akot
  3. Balapur
  4. Buldhana
  5. Kalamnuri
  6. Loha
  7. Murizapur
  8. Solapur City North
  9. Washim
 The VBA came third or lower in 226 of the 235 seats it fought.
 

VBA & AIMIM ensure NCP-Congress defeat in 34 seats, emerge as significant players: M’tra

It takes money, muscle and organisation to fight an election. While the Aam Aadmi party (AAP) contested 26 seats in Maharashtra Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi (VBA) was more ambitious, it had candidates in as many as 235 of the state’s assembly seats! In 25 seats, the VBA played spoiler in the western Indian state while in another nine, the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) presence ensured the BJP-SS to win.


Image result for VBA & AIMM party symbol"
Image Courtesy: gnsnews.co.in

Is this a failure of the opposition in general to forge a common platform against the saffron alliance, or a particular case of political opportunism by the smaller players? In nine of the 25 seats where VBA impacted, it was the VB A candidate that was at number two. Arguably then a united opposition alliance may have swept up a more decisive win.

Of the nine seats in Maharashtra where  the AIMIMs presence helped the BJP-Shiv Sena to win, two of these, Chandivali and Kalina are in Mumbai! These are:

1. Sangola Seat
SHIV SENA: 99,464 votes
PWPI: 98,696:votes
AIMIM: 979 votes

Chandivali Seat
SHIV SENA: 85,879 Votes
INC: 85470 votes
AIMIM: 1167 votes

Nagpur Central
BJP: 75692 votes
INC: 71684 votes
AIMIM: 8565 votes

Pune Cantonment
BJP: 52160 votes
INC: 47148 votes
AIMIM: 6138 votes

Paithan
SHIV SENA: 83403 votes
 NCP: 69264 votes
 AIMIM: 17212 votes

Nanded North
SHIV SENA: 62884 votes
INC: 50778 votes
AIMIM: 41892 votes

Kamthi
BJP: 118182 votes
INC: 107066 votes
AIMIM + VBA:18946 votes

Kurla
SHIV SENA: 5049 votes
NCP: 34036 votes
AIMIM:  17349 votes

Kalina
SHIV SENA: 43319 votes
INC: 38388 votes
AIMIM: 2637 votes
 
In 25 seats, it was the VBA to turn spoiler. Though the VBA did not manage to win a single seat in the Maharashtra Assembly election out of the 235 seats they contested, in as many as 25 seats, the VBA made a crucial, decisive difference – a factor that could have potentially changed the overall result of the election as well.In 25 of the seats where the Congress/NCP candidate came second and the BJP/Sena candidate won, the margin of victory was smaller than the number of votes polled by the VBA.Of the 25 seats, the BJP ended up winning in 20 seats and the Shiv Sena in the other 5.

Could 34 seats have made a crucial difference?

The winning BJP-Sena alliance won 161 seats, and the Cong-NCP+ alliance, in the final tallystands at 102. If the saffron alliance had lost the 34 seats to the Opposition alliance, it would have been a close call:
 
  • BJP-Sena: 161-34= 127
  • Cong-NCP+: 102 + 34 = 136
  • Others: 25
 
The, the BJP would have dropped down to 85, and the Sena to 51. The BJP-Sena alliance would have been not just way short of the majority mark of 145 in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly, and the Opposition alliance would have been just another 9 seats behind them.
 
Who then formed the government would be left to post poll machinations and not logic or arithmetic. The race to cobble together a majority would have been wide open.
 
Where did the VBA play spoiler?
 
The constituencies where the Congress candidate came second, and the margin of victory for BJP/Shiv Sena was less than the number of votes polled by VBA are:
 
  1. Akola West - BJP
  2. Arni - BJP
  3. Ballarpur - BJP
  4. Chikhli - BJP
  5. Chimur - BJP
  6. Dhamamgaon railway - BJP
  7. Khamgaon -BJP
  8. Nagpur South - BJP
  9. Pune Cantonment - BJP
  10. Ralegaon - BJP
  11. Shivajinagar - BJP
  12. Tuljapur - BJP
  13. Yavatmal - BJP
  14. Chandivali - Shiv Sena
  15. Chembur - Shiv Sena
  16. Nanded North - Shiv Sena
 
The list below if of those seats where the NCP candidate came second, and the margin of victory for BJP/Shiv Sena was less than the number of votes polled by VBA:
 
  1. Chalisgaon - BJP
  2. Daund - BJP
  3. Georai - BJP
  4. Jintur - BJP
  5. Khadakwasala - BJP
  6. Malshiras - BJP
  7. Ulhasnagar - BJP
  8. Osmanabad - Shiv Sena
  9. Paithan - Shiv Sena
 
Interestingly, in Chimur, the Congress polled 77,394 votes and the BJP secured 87,146 votes. The victory margin for the BJP over the Congress was 9,752. Ambedkar’s VBA received 24,474 votes, thereby taking the Cong + VBA tally up to 1,01,868 votes, which is far higher than what the BJP polled.
 
In Akola West, the Congress received 70,669 votes, losing to the BJP by a small margin of 2,593 votes. The VBA, with 20,687 votes, secured more than the victory margin here as well.

In Daund, the NCP lost to the BJP by a mere 746 votes. The VBA polled a paltry 2,633 votes – but it was still more than the margin of 746.
 
VBA’s Disappointing Performance

The fledgling VBA, which contested its first Assembly election this time around, may have overreached by choosing to put up candidates in as many as 235 seats. In fact, the VBA is the party which contested the highest number of seats in Maharashtra.In hindsight, by contesting fewer seats and focusing the party’s energies on those specific constituencies it may have done better.
.
Though it won no seats, and came second in the following 9 constituencies.
  1. Akola East
  2. Akot
  3. Balapur
  4. Buldhana
  5. Kalamnuri
  6. Loha
  7. Murizapur
  8. Solapur City North
  9. Washim
 The VBA came third or lower in 226 of the 235 seats it fought.
 

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Sabrang

Mob lynching and its defenders

Irfan Engineer 24 Oct 2019
In his annual Dussehra address on October 8, 2019, Mohan Bhagwat, the chief of RSS – a Hindu supremacist organization – stated that lynching was a concept alien to India. He objected to using a foreign word “lynching” for “isolated incidents of social violence”. “Such things have never happened in our country... This is a word for events that have occurred in foreign countries.” (Banerjee, 2019). It is unfortunate that Bhagwat problematizes the word “lynching”, used to describe a phenomena or events that are most reprehensible and abominable. What deserves strongest condemnation is the incident of violence and the brutalities involved which, most agree, is inhuman.Bhagwat condemns the violence (rather perfunctorily), however attempts to cover up the brutalities involved in the lynchings by problematizing the word. Bhagwat tries to pass such incidents as ordinary phenomenon of violence that occurs in everyday life, which can be attributed as a natural reaction to a provocation. Bhagwat attributes the usage of the word “mob lynching” to a conspiracy to defame Hindus.

mohna bhagwat

Most Indian language media do not use the word “lynching” to describe such incidents. Urdu media uses the word “bheedtashadud” (mob violence). Other Indian language media use translation of words ‘mob violence’ that captures the phenomenon of a mob beating up a few individuals. Does use of any word to describe the phenomena reduce the pain of the victims and their families? Bhagwat and, in fact, the organizations subscribing to Hindu supremacist political ideology, which are commonly referred to as the SanghParivar in the Indian media, attempt to kill the sensibilities of Indian people in general, and especially of the consumers of media, towards the suffering of victims by problematizing the word and passing off these incidents as isolated, unconnected, ordinary occurrences in society, although undesirable. Calling the incidents ‘undesirable’ is more for public consumption, political correctness and niceties, in order to qualify as a responsible mainstream organization. However, important SanghParivar leaders unapologetically justify, and even encourage, incidents of mob lynching. They are not even condemned by others from the Sangh Parivar.

On July 7, 2018,Jayant Sinha, Union minister in the BJP led government garlanded 8 persons convicted in the lynching case of Alimuddin Ansari in Ramgarh. Alimuddin Ansari was lynched to death by a mob of nearly 100 people on June 29, 2017. The message that lynch mobs get from the garlanding of those convicted for the crime by the Union minister is that the governmentis with them and supports their ‘heroic’ act. There are other leaders of the SanghParivar, who have approved and encouraged such heinous act.

The BJP led Union government was over enthusiastic and in a tearing hurry to criminalise the practice of triple talaq, or instantaneous divorce of Muslim women by their husbands, and made several attempts were made to get the legislation passed in the Parliament, merely on the grounds that the Supreme Court had recommended it, even though such incidents of triple talaq were very few. The same enthusiasm is not seen in enacting a law against mob lynching, even though the Supreme Court directed that such a legislation be passed(News18.com, 2019). The hurried enactment of a law criminalizing triple talaq and the denial of the necessity of a law to deal with lynching – both are politically motivated, even though the former was sought to be passed off as a legitimate response to the Supreme Court judgment.

What is lynching?
Let us try to understand why the incidents that are described as lynching by the English language media are different from ordinary violence leading to physical injuries, or even deaths, of the hapless victims. We will primarily try to understand this through two fact finding missions of such incidents in Jharkhand, in which this author was involved. The first incident happened onApril 10, 2019,in Dumri block of Gumla district, in which Prakash Lakda was lynched to death and two others were injured. The fact finding mission was appointed by the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS) (CSSS Team, 2019). The second incident of mob lynching took place on September 22, 2019, which again led to the death of ClemitiusBarla and injury to two others in Karra block of Khuntidistrict. This incident was investigated by SAFFORB-India, of which CSSS is a constituent, and this author was a member of the fact finding team. The report was published on October 5, 2019 and distributed to the media in Ranchi.

The lynch mob, in both the cases, accused their victims of slaughtering a cow and distributing its meat among the participants. In the Gumladistrict incident, the victims were skinning a dead ox. Traditionally, the caste Hindus hand over their dead animals to the Oraonadivasis for disposal. The Oraons extract the skin, distribute the meat of the dead cow and dispose of the carcass of the dead animal. Oraons eat meat of dead animals at the risk of their health, as they are poor. On the said day (April 10), a mob of 40-50 attacked those skinning the dead ox and brutally beat them up for close to 4 hours, till midnight, when they called up the police to take the injured away and charge them for illegally slaughtering a cow. The police responded by telling the members of the lynch mob to bring the three injured to the police station, even though the hospital was on their way to police station. The lynchers obliged, organized a vehicle and dropped them on the premises of the police station, where they continued to lynch them for some more time. Then the police took to lynching the injured, and then, carried two of the three injured to the hospital at 4.00 am in the morning. By then Prakash Lakda was dead. It is not a mere co-incidence that the targets of the lynching belonged to the Christian community.

In Khuntidistrict, Christian adivasis, belonging to the Munda community, were celebrating their festival Badpahari – an ancient adivasi festival. They were cleaning an ox on September22, near the river, and doing dangri (distribution of meat of the cleaned animal). Badpahadi / dangri is a tradition practiced by all adivasis, and despite the conversion to Christianity, the tradition continued. At around 8.00 AM, 15-20 people, armed with sticks and other weapons, from 3 to 4 villages, 3 to 10 kms away from Suari village, where the lynching took place, started attacking them. The attack could not have been but planned, if so many people from different and far away villages assembled early in the morning, travelling by foot, as the river bed where the attack took place is not motorable. Those, who were cleaning the animal, escaped while others, who were in the neighbouring field, were targeted. ClemitiusBarla, who died in the incident, was handicapped and, having his bath in the river, was caught and severely beaten. So was PhaguKachhap, a Hindu from a neighbouring village, who was watering his field, was wantonly caught by the mob. KushalHoro’s testimony to the SAFFORB team is important. He said, “Without asking anything, they straightaway started beating us. We all ran away to save our lives.” Both the teams concluded that the incidents, they were investigating, appeared to be planned. The targets were carefully chosen – poor, Christians and adivasis making them vulnerable three-times over.

Victims of mob lynching
Christians, and that too poor adivasis, are unable to fight, raise their voices in media before those who matter or come to their help. They are deserted not only by the media, institutions of the state and civil society, but also by the Church itself, which is as scared of the political consequences and accusations of conversions. Clemitius’ sister, KarunaBarla, who is an eye witness to the lynching of Clemitius, told us that after the incident, some unknown people visited them and told them not to file any case against those involved in the lynching. The case would be time consuming, the result of the case would be uncertain and it would cost a lot of money. The villagers got convinced on the last issue. They decided not to file any case, as it would cost them a lot of money. They were so naive as to believe the strangers, and the fear of financial cost involved deterred them from taking recourse to legal remedies. They did not know that they would not have to spend any money, as the state would prosecute the accused on their behalf.

The triply vulnerable poor Christian adivasis are further victimized by the state, by filing cases against them under the Jharkhand Bovine Animal (Prohibition of Slaughter) Act 2005. Instead of getting FIRs registered against those lynching them, their instinct is to run away to protect themselves from being maliciously prosecuted on false accusation of slaughtering a cow. An FIR against the lynched victims is registered first, before registering an FIR against the members of the lynch mobs. Tabrez Ansari and his friends were charged for theft in another instance of mob lynching in Jharkhand. Pehlu Khan and his son were charged under Section 5 of Rajasthan Bovine Animal (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act, 1995, in the case of mob lynching in Alwar in Rajasthan. In the Khuntidistrict case, the police had not charged the victims, till the date of our visit. That seemed to be a rare exception. The police took the injured to the hospital immediately, though Clemitius died after his hospitalization.

The main reason why only Christian adivasis are planned targets of lynch mobs is to accomplish their objective of triggering a communally polarizing discourse of Christians slaughtering gaumata. That is the plank for the Sangh to divide the Christian and non-Christian adivasis, and create its influence among the non-Christian adivasis. Communally polarising the adivasis blunts their ‘adivasi’ consciousness as having different way of life and weltanschauung, and weakens their struggle to protect their right to land, natural resources, forest produce, both minor and major - in short, their right to jal, jungle and jameen- against the mining mafia and against displacement in the name of development. In Khuntidistrict, the adivasis – Christians and non-Christians together, waged a successful struggle against the amendment of the Jharkhand and Chhota Nagpur Tenancy Acts, which would have enabled the big corporations to acquire their land. Their traditional rights to jal, jungle and jameen are statutorily protected under the PESA Act, wherein gram sabhas are all powerful. The Pathalgarhi movement is to, precisely, defend these rights wherein the statutory provisions are carved on stones in villages. The Christian – non-Christian divide is blunting this adivasi consciousness. The BJP is known to be favouring big business more than any other political party in the country. The discourse of development favoured by the BJP is one which spurs urbanizing, construction of massive infrastructure of roads and flyovers for the urban rich and middleclass.

The lynch mobs and their objectives
The lynch mobs are drawn from the dominant caste Hindus of the region, who use symbols like cow as a political tool to further their social hegemony and domination in the area, particularly over the adivasis. In the case of lynch mob in Dumri Block in Gumladistrict belonged to Sahu community, Sanjay Sahu, who was arrested for lynching Prakash Lakda to death and injuring two,is a criminal history sheeter, accused previously of extortion and murder. Many Sahus had their brick kiln on adivasi owned land and were using the soil of the land to bake bricks without paying a farthing to the adivasis. They wanted the adivasis to live in fear and never demand their land back. Sanjay Sahu was protecting his hegemony, and those of his minions and community members, and killing Prakash Lakda was neither his first murder nor would be the last murder. ‘Gauraksha’ was a convenient cover for his social, economic and political interests rather than a religious conviction. Sanjay Sahu enjoyed the political protection of elected representatives, and the elected representatives need Sanjay Sahu and his minions to push the voters to electoral booths. Sanjay Sahu’s political clout is evident from the fact that the BJP MP, SudharshanBhagat’s victory procession ended in his village, Jairagi, which makes no other sense as it is neither the border of the constituency nor has any other significance.

The accused in the Khuntidistrict incident were allegedly from Bajrang Dal and belonged to the Rajput caste. They were from Poda, Jaltanda and Karra block headquarters. Their names are Parmanand Singh, Ravindra Kumar Singh, Bhubaneshwar Singh and Pushpa Raj. Our informer told us that there were several other incidents of mob lynching in the area. However, no one reported the incidents, the victims being from the marginalized community. When the victims did summon courage, the police scared them away. Since, in this case, the lynching resulted in death, it attracted media attention and, therefore,the FIR was finally registered. The group was working with impunity and creating their political clout and fear among the marginalized communities. In both the cases, one of the objectives of the mob was to establish their unquestioned social hegemony, not only over the victims, but the entire community to which the victims belong.

Lynching and ordinary crimes
The difference in lynching and other crimes lies in the manner in which it is carried out and in the objective. Lynching is carried out openly, publicly, demonstrably and without any fear of law. Ordinary crimes are done with as much stealth as necessary to escape the law. Unlike terror attacks, caste violence and communal riots, wherein the targets are any and every member of a community, the lynch mobs target particular individuals accusing them of some wrong doing – whether or not the accusation is a fact. The mob may consist of scores of people from the dominant section of the society, enjoying the patronage of the state. The individuals targeted by the mob are under their complete control and can be made to do anything that the mob orders them to do – even eat shit or chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ or ‘Bharat mataki jai’ or chant any invocation against the most sacred creed of the victim. The target of mob lynching is totally helpless. The members of a large mob encourage even the worst brutality. No brutality is brutal enough to be not perpetrated on the victim. This includes jumping on the body of the injured victim lying on the ground and unable to get up, beating for hours together with sticks and other weapons, burning, hacking with sharp instruments. The victim is perceived as worse than an animal – a demon whose existence, and his/her community’s existence, is a threat to the entire society. The brutalities are committed to send a message to the entire community to which the victim belongs. Therefore, videos of the brutality are made and uploaded on the social media to terrorise the entire community and gain sympathies of others for, what one thinks, a ‘heroic’ act.

There is no remorse in the members of the community to which the lynch mob belongs. Lack of remorse surprises us. How can human beings be without any remorse for the brutal act on the victims? While the theatre of communal riots has been mostly in urban areas with some exceptions, mob lynching is communally polarizing in the rural areas as well. Mob lynching is encouraged by SanghParivar as a vehicle to take the Hindu supremacist political ideology to the rural areas. Empathy of the SanghParivar for the lynch mobs is, therefore, understandable. The BJP and the SanghParivar are, therefore, against enacting any legislation to deter mob lynching.

By problematizing the word ‘lynching’ as foreign,Bhagwat and others in the SanghParivar obliterate this distinction between ordinary social violence and the brutalities that entail the mob lynching incidents, and indirectly acquiesce the incidents. Some even glorify these incidents. However, lynch mobs are not only digging the grave for humanity, they are also digging the grave for the rule of law in India and for Hinduism itself.

RELATED ARTICLES :
  1. No data on lynchings, NCRB withholds figures
  2. Jharkhand, Mob Lynching and Marginalization of Adivasis
  3. FIR against celebrities who sent letter to PM against mob lynching: Bihar
  4. Dalit men beaten up for attending birthday party, Rajasthan
  5. Lynching: India's Shame!
 
 

Mob lynching and its defenders

In his annual Dussehra address on October 8, 2019, Mohan Bhagwat, the chief of RSS – a Hindu supremacist organization – stated that lynching was a concept alien to India. He objected to using a foreign word “lynching” for “isolated incidents of social violence”. “Such things have never happened in our country... This is a word for events that have occurred in foreign countries.” (Banerjee, 2019). It is unfortunate that Bhagwat problematizes the word “lynching”, used to describe a phenomena or events that are most reprehensible and abominable. What deserves strongest condemnation is the incident of violence and the brutalities involved which, most agree, is inhuman.Bhagwat condemns the violence (rather perfunctorily), however attempts to cover up the brutalities involved in the lynchings by problematizing the word. Bhagwat tries to pass such incidents as ordinary phenomenon of violence that occurs in everyday life, which can be attributed as a natural reaction to a provocation. Bhagwat attributes the usage of the word “mob lynching” to a conspiracy to defame Hindus.

mohna bhagwat

Most Indian language media do not use the word “lynching” to describe such incidents. Urdu media uses the word “bheedtashadud” (mob violence). Other Indian language media use translation of words ‘mob violence’ that captures the phenomenon of a mob beating up a few individuals. Does use of any word to describe the phenomena reduce the pain of the victims and their families? Bhagwat and, in fact, the organizations subscribing to Hindu supremacist political ideology, which are commonly referred to as the SanghParivar in the Indian media, attempt to kill the sensibilities of Indian people in general, and especially of the consumers of media, towards the suffering of victims by problematizing the word and passing off these incidents as isolated, unconnected, ordinary occurrences in society, although undesirable. Calling the incidents ‘undesirable’ is more for public consumption, political correctness and niceties, in order to qualify as a responsible mainstream organization. However, important SanghParivar leaders unapologetically justify, and even encourage, incidents of mob lynching. They are not even condemned by others from the Sangh Parivar.

On July 7, 2018,Jayant Sinha, Union minister in the BJP led government garlanded 8 persons convicted in the lynching case of Alimuddin Ansari in Ramgarh. Alimuddin Ansari was lynched to death by a mob of nearly 100 people on June 29, 2017. The message that lynch mobs get from the garlanding of those convicted for the crime by the Union minister is that the governmentis with them and supports their ‘heroic’ act. There are other leaders of the SanghParivar, who have approved and encouraged such heinous act.

The BJP led Union government was over enthusiastic and in a tearing hurry to criminalise the practice of triple talaq, or instantaneous divorce of Muslim women by their husbands, and made several attempts were made to get the legislation passed in the Parliament, merely on the grounds that the Supreme Court had recommended it, even though such incidents of triple talaq were very few. The same enthusiasm is not seen in enacting a law against mob lynching, even though the Supreme Court directed that such a legislation be passed(News18.com, 2019). The hurried enactment of a law criminalizing triple talaq and the denial of the necessity of a law to deal with lynching – both are politically motivated, even though the former was sought to be passed off as a legitimate response to the Supreme Court judgment.

What is lynching?
Let us try to understand why the incidents that are described as lynching by the English language media are different from ordinary violence leading to physical injuries, or even deaths, of the hapless victims. We will primarily try to understand this through two fact finding missions of such incidents in Jharkhand, in which this author was involved. The first incident happened onApril 10, 2019,in Dumri block of Gumla district, in which Prakash Lakda was lynched to death and two others were injured. The fact finding mission was appointed by the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS) (CSSS Team, 2019). The second incident of mob lynching took place on September 22, 2019, which again led to the death of ClemitiusBarla and injury to two others in Karra block of Khuntidistrict. This incident was investigated by SAFFORB-India, of which CSSS is a constituent, and this author was a member of the fact finding team. The report was published on October 5, 2019 and distributed to the media in Ranchi.

The lynch mob, in both the cases, accused their victims of slaughtering a cow and distributing its meat among the participants. In the Gumladistrict incident, the victims were skinning a dead ox. Traditionally, the caste Hindus hand over their dead animals to the Oraonadivasis for disposal. The Oraons extract the skin, distribute the meat of the dead cow and dispose of the carcass of the dead animal. Oraons eat meat of dead animals at the risk of their health, as they are poor. On the said day (April 10), a mob of 40-50 attacked those skinning the dead ox and brutally beat them up for close to 4 hours, till midnight, when they called up the police to take the injured away and charge them for illegally slaughtering a cow. The police responded by telling the members of the lynch mob to bring the three injured to the police station, even though the hospital was on their way to police station. The lynchers obliged, organized a vehicle and dropped them on the premises of the police station, where they continued to lynch them for some more time. Then the police took to lynching the injured, and then, carried two of the three injured to the hospital at 4.00 am in the morning. By then Prakash Lakda was dead. It is not a mere co-incidence that the targets of the lynching belonged to the Christian community.

In Khuntidistrict, Christian adivasis, belonging to the Munda community, were celebrating their festival Badpahari – an ancient adivasi festival. They were cleaning an ox on September22, near the river, and doing dangri (distribution of meat of the cleaned animal). Badpahadi / dangri is a tradition practiced by all adivasis, and despite the conversion to Christianity, the tradition continued. At around 8.00 AM, 15-20 people, armed with sticks and other weapons, from 3 to 4 villages, 3 to 10 kms away from Suari village, where the lynching took place, started attacking them. The attack could not have been but planned, if so many people from different and far away villages assembled early in the morning, travelling by foot, as the river bed where the attack took place is not motorable. Those, who were cleaning the animal, escaped while others, who were in the neighbouring field, were targeted. ClemitiusBarla, who died in the incident, was handicapped and, having his bath in the river, was caught and severely beaten. So was PhaguKachhap, a Hindu from a neighbouring village, who was watering his field, was wantonly caught by the mob. KushalHoro’s testimony to the SAFFORB team is important. He said, “Without asking anything, they straightaway started beating us. We all ran away to save our lives.” Both the teams concluded that the incidents, they were investigating, appeared to be planned. The targets were carefully chosen – poor, Christians and adivasis making them vulnerable three-times over.

Victims of mob lynching
Christians, and that too poor adivasis, are unable to fight, raise their voices in media before those who matter or come to their help. They are deserted not only by the media, institutions of the state and civil society, but also by the Church itself, which is as scared of the political consequences and accusations of conversions. Clemitius’ sister, KarunaBarla, who is an eye witness to the lynching of Clemitius, told us that after the incident, some unknown people visited them and told them not to file any case against those involved in the lynching. The case would be time consuming, the result of the case would be uncertain and it would cost a lot of money. The villagers got convinced on the last issue. They decided not to file any case, as it would cost them a lot of money. They were so naive as to believe the strangers, and the fear of financial cost involved deterred them from taking recourse to legal remedies. They did not know that they would not have to spend any money, as the state would prosecute the accused on their behalf.

The triply vulnerable poor Christian adivasis are further victimized by the state, by filing cases against them under the Jharkhand Bovine Animal (Prohibition of Slaughter) Act 2005. Instead of getting FIRs registered against those lynching them, their instinct is to run away to protect themselves from being maliciously prosecuted on false accusation of slaughtering a cow. An FIR against the lynched victims is registered first, before registering an FIR against the members of the lynch mobs. Tabrez Ansari and his friends were charged for theft in another instance of mob lynching in Jharkhand. Pehlu Khan and his son were charged under Section 5 of Rajasthan Bovine Animal (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act, 1995, in the case of mob lynching in Alwar in Rajasthan. In the Khuntidistrict case, the police had not charged the victims, till the date of our visit. That seemed to be a rare exception. The police took the injured to the hospital immediately, though Clemitius died after his hospitalization.

The main reason why only Christian adivasis are planned targets of lynch mobs is to accomplish their objective of triggering a communally polarizing discourse of Christians slaughtering gaumata. That is the plank for the Sangh to divide the Christian and non-Christian adivasis, and create its influence among the non-Christian adivasis. Communally polarising the adivasis blunts their ‘adivasi’ consciousness as having different way of life and weltanschauung, and weakens their struggle to protect their right to land, natural resources, forest produce, both minor and major - in short, their right to jal, jungle and jameen- against the mining mafia and against displacement in the name of development. In Khuntidistrict, the adivasis – Christians and non-Christians together, waged a successful struggle against the amendment of the Jharkhand and Chhota Nagpur Tenancy Acts, which would have enabled the big corporations to acquire their land. Their traditional rights to jal, jungle and jameen are statutorily protected under the PESA Act, wherein gram sabhas are all powerful. The Pathalgarhi movement is to, precisely, defend these rights wherein the statutory provisions are carved on stones in villages. The Christian – non-Christian divide is blunting this adivasi consciousness. The BJP is known to be favouring big business more than any other political party in the country. The discourse of development favoured by the BJP is one which spurs urbanizing, construction of massive infrastructure of roads and flyovers for the urban rich and middleclass.

The lynch mobs and their objectives
The lynch mobs are drawn from the dominant caste Hindus of the region, who use symbols like cow as a political tool to further their social hegemony and domination in the area, particularly over the adivasis. In the case of lynch mob in Dumri Block in Gumladistrict belonged to Sahu community, Sanjay Sahu, who was arrested for lynching Prakash Lakda to death and injuring two,is a criminal history sheeter, accused previously of extortion and murder. Many Sahus had their brick kiln on adivasi owned land and were using the soil of the land to bake bricks without paying a farthing to the adivasis. They wanted the adivasis to live in fear and never demand their land back. Sanjay Sahu was protecting his hegemony, and those of his minions and community members, and killing Prakash Lakda was neither his first murder nor would be the last murder. ‘Gauraksha’ was a convenient cover for his social, economic and political interests rather than a religious conviction. Sanjay Sahu enjoyed the political protection of elected representatives, and the elected representatives need Sanjay Sahu and his minions to push the voters to electoral booths. Sanjay Sahu’s political clout is evident from the fact that the BJP MP, SudharshanBhagat’s victory procession ended in his village, Jairagi, which makes no other sense as it is neither the border of the constituency nor has any other significance.

The accused in the Khuntidistrict incident were allegedly from Bajrang Dal and belonged to the Rajput caste. They were from Poda, Jaltanda and Karra block headquarters. Their names are Parmanand Singh, Ravindra Kumar Singh, Bhubaneshwar Singh and Pushpa Raj. Our informer told us that there were several other incidents of mob lynching in the area. However, no one reported the incidents, the victims being from the marginalized community. When the victims did summon courage, the police scared them away. Since, in this case, the lynching resulted in death, it attracted media attention and, therefore,the FIR was finally registered. The group was working with impunity and creating their political clout and fear among the marginalized communities. In both the cases, one of the objectives of the mob was to establish their unquestioned social hegemony, not only over the victims, but the entire community to which the victims belong.

Lynching and ordinary crimes
The difference in lynching and other crimes lies in the manner in which it is carried out and in the objective. Lynching is carried out openly, publicly, demonstrably and without any fear of law. Ordinary crimes are done with as much stealth as necessary to escape the law. Unlike terror attacks, caste violence and communal riots, wherein the targets are any and every member of a community, the lynch mobs target particular individuals accusing them of some wrong doing – whether or not the accusation is a fact. The mob may consist of scores of people from the dominant section of the society, enjoying the patronage of the state. The individuals targeted by the mob are under their complete control and can be made to do anything that the mob orders them to do – even eat shit or chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ or ‘Bharat mataki jai’ or chant any invocation against the most sacred creed of the victim. The target of mob lynching is totally helpless. The members of a large mob encourage even the worst brutality. No brutality is brutal enough to be not perpetrated on the victim. This includes jumping on the body of the injured victim lying on the ground and unable to get up, beating for hours together with sticks and other weapons, burning, hacking with sharp instruments. The victim is perceived as worse than an animal – a demon whose existence, and his/her community’s existence, is a threat to the entire society. The brutalities are committed to send a message to the entire community to which the victim belongs. Therefore, videos of the brutality are made and uploaded on the social media to terrorise the entire community and gain sympathies of others for, what one thinks, a ‘heroic’ act.

There is no remorse in the members of the community to which the lynch mob belongs. Lack of remorse surprises us. How can human beings be without any remorse for the brutal act on the victims? While the theatre of communal riots has been mostly in urban areas with some exceptions, mob lynching is communally polarizing in the rural areas as well. Mob lynching is encouraged by SanghParivar as a vehicle to take the Hindu supremacist political ideology to the rural areas. Empathy of the SanghParivar for the lynch mobs is, therefore, understandable. The BJP and the SanghParivar are, therefore, against enacting any legislation to deter mob lynching.

By problematizing the word ‘lynching’ as foreign,Bhagwat and others in the SanghParivar obliterate this distinction between ordinary social violence and the brutalities that entail the mob lynching incidents, and indirectly acquiesce the incidents. Some even glorify these incidents. However, lynch mobs are not only digging the grave for humanity, they are also digging the grave for the rule of law in India and for Hinduism itself.

RELATED ARTICLES :
  1. No data on lynchings, NCRB withholds figures
  2. Jharkhand, Mob Lynching and Marginalization of Adivasis
  3. FIR against celebrities who sent letter to PM against mob lynching: Bihar
  4. Dalit men beaten up for attending birthday party, Rajasthan
  5. Lynching: India's Shame!
 
 

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Sabrang

‘No outsiders in Kashmir’: Militants target non-locals, gun down apple traders and migrant labourers

Sabrangindia 23 Oct 2019

Most non-locals had left Kashmir after the August 5 announcement of the abrogation of Article 370


Apple traders
Image Courtesy: News18/Aaakash Hassan

Almost two months after the abrogation of Article 370 when people started trickling back into the Valley, militants targeted non-Kashmiris to create an atmosphere of fear among the people.

On October 16, Charanjeet Singh, an apple trader from Punjab was gunned down at Tranz, Shopian; SethiSahasSagar, a 29-year-old labourer from Chattisgarh was shot to death in South Kashmir. On October 14, Sharif Khan, a truck driver was shot dead at Shrimal, Shopian soon after postpaid mobile phone services were restored in the Valley.

Officials and political observers had braced for a spike in violence after the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A, ending the special constitutional provisions that Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed. While the security establishment expected a spike in violence, such calibrated attacks on non-locals are a new trend in the valley.

Speaking to New Indian Express, an expert said, “Militant activity choked by the shutdown and high vigilance on the ground has to break out to maintain its own relevance, or they die a philosophical death. They will try to hit out and prove the abrogation of Articles 370 is counter-productive.”

“By killing the non-locals, militants want to convey the message to non-locals: ‘don’t dare to come here’.” AjaiSahni, Executive Director of the Institute for Conflict Management, said terrorists know they cannot execute complex operations, so non-locals are their “obvious soft” targets.

Threats to Apple Traders
Security officials state that the mission of the militants is to disrupt the revival of economic activity which is the target of the government. The security agencies see these attacks as a desperate attempt of militants to bully apple traders.

According to the police, militants have been consistently threatening apple traders to not pluck the yield since the start of the harvest season in September. Threats have come by the way of posters that have been put up at various places across the fruit belt of Kashmir.

"I am only picking up the fruits and packing them. The killing of a driver will have a bearing on sale and transportation", said Javed Ahmad, an apple grower in Shopian.

Truckers have been a regular target of the militants these past few days. While some of them are allowed to carry essential commodities, many are not allowed to load apples for different destinations across the country.
 
Although growers went ahead to harvest their crop, two significant fruit Mandis in Sopore and Shopian continue to remain shut. Many drivers have accused the government of forcing them to go to Kashmir and fetch apples without any assurance of security. Also, many Kashmir bound loaded trucks are parked at Jammu and drivers are reluctant to go to Kashmir in fear of being attacked.

Talking to Daily Excelsior, truck driver Prem Singh from Punjab said that he had gone to Shopian to load apple boxes to be transported to Delhi, but some youth with lathis intercepted his truck near a village, damaged it and also beat him and his cleaner up asking them not to return to Kashmir again. Prem Singh suffered a loss of over Rs. 35,000.

In wake of these increasing attacks, the government is finally taking note of the situation and helping traders by letting them procure the crop directly from farmers through the National Agriculture Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED).

The Message behind the Attacks
The unprecedented attacks on non-locals, especially the first in case of migrant labour, has compelled the government to take stock of the situation. Political observers say that these attacks stem from issues related to identity and culture, sending a message that non-locals are not welcome in Kashmir.

It is also said that these protests are in retaliation to Haryana CM ManoharLalKhattar’s misogynistic statement about men now being able to marry Kashmiri girls.

The first death of a non-local surfaced in September when Sufi Alam, a mason, a migrant labourer was shot at by militants in Sopore. He was one of the hundred labourers who stayed back in Kashmir even when thousands fled the state of Kashmir in the run-up to the announcement about revoking J&K’s special status.

While Kashmir is slowly inching back to life, after the shutdown and communication blockade, it is to be seen whether the imposed political vacuum will lead to the eruption of a massive militant movement or there will be enough security to ensure that peace in the Valley is fully restored.

Related
Expecting large scale protests, Government asks CRPF to stock up on non-lethal munitions: Kashmir
Post 370 Abrogation, August 5, the Forest Advisory Committee of J & K has cleared 125 projects on forest land
Silent protest in Hyderabad against clampdown in Kashmir
 

‘No outsiders in Kashmir’: Militants target non-locals, gun down apple traders and migrant labourers

Most non-locals had left Kashmir after the August 5 announcement of the abrogation of Article 370


Apple traders
Image Courtesy: News18/Aaakash Hassan

Almost two months after the abrogation of Article 370 when people started trickling back into the Valley, militants targeted non-Kashmiris to create an atmosphere of fear among the people.

On October 16, Charanjeet Singh, an apple trader from Punjab was gunned down at Tranz, Shopian; SethiSahasSagar, a 29-year-old labourer from Chattisgarh was shot to death in South Kashmir. On October 14, Sharif Khan, a truck driver was shot dead at Shrimal, Shopian soon after postpaid mobile phone services were restored in the Valley.

Officials and political observers had braced for a spike in violence after the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A, ending the special constitutional provisions that Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed. While the security establishment expected a spike in violence, such calibrated attacks on non-locals are a new trend in the valley.

Speaking to New Indian Express, an expert said, “Militant activity choked by the shutdown and high vigilance on the ground has to break out to maintain its own relevance, or they die a philosophical death. They will try to hit out and prove the abrogation of Articles 370 is counter-productive.”

“By killing the non-locals, militants want to convey the message to non-locals: ‘don’t dare to come here’.” AjaiSahni, Executive Director of the Institute for Conflict Management, said terrorists know they cannot execute complex operations, so non-locals are their “obvious soft” targets.

Threats to Apple Traders
Security officials state that the mission of the militants is to disrupt the revival of economic activity which is the target of the government. The security agencies see these attacks as a desperate attempt of militants to bully apple traders.

According to the police, militants have been consistently threatening apple traders to not pluck the yield since the start of the harvest season in September. Threats have come by the way of posters that have been put up at various places across the fruit belt of Kashmir.

"I am only picking up the fruits and packing them. The killing of a driver will have a bearing on sale and transportation", said Javed Ahmad, an apple grower in Shopian.

Truckers have been a regular target of the militants these past few days. While some of them are allowed to carry essential commodities, many are not allowed to load apples for different destinations across the country.
 
Although growers went ahead to harvest their crop, two significant fruit Mandis in Sopore and Shopian continue to remain shut. Many drivers have accused the government of forcing them to go to Kashmir and fetch apples without any assurance of security. Also, many Kashmir bound loaded trucks are parked at Jammu and drivers are reluctant to go to Kashmir in fear of being attacked.

Talking to Daily Excelsior, truck driver Prem Singh from Punjab said that he had gone to Shopian to load apple boxes to be transported to Delhi, but some youth with lathis intercepted his truck near a village, damaged it and also beat him and his cleaner up asking them not to return to Kashmir again. Prem Singh suffered a loss of over Rs. 35,000.

In wake of these increasing attacks, the government is finally taking note of the situation and helping traders by letting them procure the crop directly from farmers through the National Agriculture Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED).

The Message behind the Attacks
The unprecedented attacks on non-locals, especially the first in case of migrant labour, has compelled the government to take stock of the situation. Political observers say that these attacks stem from issues related to identity and culture, sending a message that non-locals are not welcome in Kashmir.

It is also said that these protests are in retaliation to Haryana CM ManoharLalKhattar’s misogynistic statement about men now being able to marry Kashmiri girls.

The first death of a non-local surfaced in September when Sufi Alam, a mason, a migrant labourer was shot at by militants in Sopore. He was one of the hundred labourers who stayed back in Kashmir even when thousands fled the state of Kashmir in the run-up to the announcement about revoking J&K’s special status.

While Kashmir is slowly inching back to life, after the shutdown and communication blockade, it is to be seen whether the imposed political vacuum will lead to the eruption of a massive militant movement or there will be enough security to ensure that peace in the Valley is fully restored.

Related
Expecting large scale protests, Government asks CRPF to stock up on non-lethal munitions: Kashmir
Post 370 Abrogation, August 5, the Forest Advisory Committee of J & K has cleared 125 projects on forest land
Silent protest in Hyderabad against clampdown in Kashmir
 

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Mobs attack Hindi speaking milkmen settlement killing one: Assam

Sabrangindia 21 Oct 2019

More than 20 people who fled to nearby forest areas to escape the assault are still missing


Mob Attack
Representational Image

Creating panic among the Hindi-speaking people of Upper Assam’s Dibrugarh district, more than 100 miscreants armed with spears, sticks and machetes, all suspected members of the TakamMising Poring Kebang (TMPK), attacked a settlement of milkmen and cattle-rearers at CharkholiaRamsingSaporion Saturday. They also torched ten houses in the area. The settlement is a sandbar situated in the middle of the Brahmaputra.

The area falls under Hiloidharigaon panchayat of Lahoal block. It takes five hours to reach the sandbar by boat. Most of the sandbar inhabitants are milkmen and cattle-rearers. They are mostly people who migrated from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and have been living on the sapori for decades.

Murali Yadav (52), a milkman, succumbed to his injuries at the Assam Medical College on Sunday. Vijay Yadav (38), grievously injured, remains in a critical condition. The other injured have been identified as Dhananjoy Yadav, Bijoy Yadav, Aditya Yadav, Mukti Yadav, Sushila Yadav and Radheshyam Yadav.

As per an FIR lodged with the police, the dairy farmers were served letters by the TakamMisingPorinKebang, LaimekuriAnchalik Committee of Dhemaji district on October 11. The TMPK, a student organisation of the Mising community of Assam had demanded donations ranging from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 50,000 from each of the families for TMPK’s 48th foundation day which was scheduled to be celebrated on October 16. The complainants mentioned that since they did not pay the amount demanded by the organisation, a large number of people led by TMPK leaders set ablaze their houses and attacked them yesterday.

The Telegraph reported that on October 15, a sandbar resident, Pradip Yadav, had submitted a memorandum to Dibrugarh deputy commissioner Pallav Gopal Jha urging him to take action against the TMPK.

The Police Fail to Act
“The district administration failed to take action. If they had done so, my father would have been alive today. I lost my father because of the failure of the police and the district administration,” said Binod, son of the deceased.

Ramjan Yadav, another local resident who filed the FIR at Dibrugarh police station against the TMPK told TOI, “We approached both, the DC and the SP but the matter was not taken seriously.”

Defending the delay to act, Dibrugarh SP Gautam Borah said, “The Chapori (sandbar) where the incident took place is very remotely located and it takes around four hours to reach there. There is no mobile network there. We have sent a police battalion under Additional SP (headquarters), Dhrubajyoti Bora. He, along with ADC DipuDeka, is investigating the incident. The culprits will be arrested soon.”

TMPK Denies Involvement
Meanwhile the TMPK has denied the involvement of its members in the incident. TMPK Dhemaji unit president DurnaKantaJimey said, “None of our members are involved in the incident. It may be the handiwork of miscreants. Someone may be trying to tarnish the name of our organisation. Our members are disciplined and won’t indulge in any such act. Anyway, the truth will come out after the investigation.”

Related:
Assam's plan to make Sanskrit compulsory draws flak from teachers, but the RSS is pleased
NRC and CAB: The cauldron boils over in the NE 
Over 7 lakh Hindus among those excluded from the NRC, leaked data suggests
 

Mobs attack Hindi speaking milkmen settlement killing one: Assam

More than 20 people who fled to nearby forest areas to escape the assault are still missing


Mob Attack
Representational Image

Creating panic among the Hindi-speaking people of Upper Assam’s Dibrugarh district, more than 100 miscreants armed with spears, sticks and machetes, all suspected members of the TakamMising Poring Kebang (TMPK), attacked a settlement of milkmen and cattle-rearers at CharkholiaRamsingSaporion Saturday. They also torched ten houses in the area. The settlement is a sandbar situated in the middle of the Brahmaputra.

The area falls under Hiloidharigaon panchayat of Lahoal block. It takes five hours to reach the sandbar by boat. Most of the sandbar inhabitants are milkmen and cattle-rearers. They are mostly people who migrated from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and have been living on the sapori for decades.

Murali Yadav (52), a milkman, succumbed to his injuries at the Assam Medical College on Sunday. Vijay Yadav (38), grievously injured, remains in a critical condition. The other injured have been identified as Dhananjoy Yadav, Bijoy Yadav, Aditya Yadav, Mukti Yadav, Sushila Yadav and Radheshyam Yadav.

As per an FIR lodged with the police, the dairy farmers were served letters by the TakamMisingPorinKebang, LaimekuriAnchalik Committee of Dhemaji district on October 11. The TMPK, a student organisation of the Mising community of Assam had demanded donations ranging from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 50,000 from each of the families for TMPK’s 48th foundation day which was scheduled to be celebrated on October 16. The complainants mentioned that since they did not pay the amount demanded by the organisation, a large number of people led by TMPK leaders set ablaze their houses and attacked them yesterday.

The Telegraph reported that on October 15, a sandbar resident, Pradip Yadav, had submitted a memorandum to Dibrugarh deputy commissioner Pallav Gopal Jha urging him to take action against the TMPK.

The Police Fail to Act
“The district administration failed to take action. If they had done so, my father would have been alive today. I lost my father because of the failure of the police and the district administration,” said Binod, son of the deceased.

Ramjan Yadav, another local resident who filed the FIR at Dibrugarh police station against the TMPK told TOI, “We approached both, the DC and the SP but the matter was not taken seriously.”

Defending the delay to act, Dibrugarh SP Gautam Borah said, “The Chapori (sandbar) where the incident took place is very remotely located and it takes around four hours to reach there. There is no mobile network there. We have sent a police battalion under Additional SP (headquarters), Dhrubajyoti Bora. He, along with ADC DipuDeka, is investigating the incident. The culprits will be arrested soon.”

TMPK Denies Involvement
Meanwhile the TMPK has denied the involvement of its members in the incident. TMPK Dhemaji unit president DurnaKantaJimey said, “None of our members are involved in the incident. It may be the handiwork of miscreants. Someone may be trying to tarnish the name of our organisation. Our members are disciplined and won’t indulge in any such act. Anyway, the truth will come out after the investigation.”

Related:
Assam's plan to make Sanskrit compulsory draws flak from teachers, but the RSS is pleased
NRC and CAB: The cauldron boils over in the NE 
Over 7 lakh Hindus among those excluded from the NRC, leaked data suggests
 

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Five arrested for murder of Hindutva leader, Kamlesh Tiwari

Sabrangindia 19 Oct 2019
Five people have been arrested for the murder of Kamlesh Tiwari, the leader of a political party in Uttar Pradesh who was killed at his residence in Lucknow on Friday, Director-General of UP Police O.P. Singh said at a press conference in Lucknow today.



Of the five, three were taken into custody in Surat in Gujarat during a joint operation between the police forces of the two states.  The two other arrests were those of Muslim clerics – Mohammed Mufti Naeem Kazmi and Imam Maulana Anwarul Haq – from western UP’s Bijnor district who had been named in an FIR filed by Tiwari’s wife. Some other  accused of the attack on the president of Hindu Samaj Party, are still on the run, NDTV reported.



“The three persons who have been taken into custody in Surat are Mohsin Sheikh, Faizan and Rashid Ahmed. So far there is no terror angle associated with this incident,” Singh said.
 

Five arrested for murder of Hindutva leader, Kamlesh Tiwari

Five people have been arrested for the murder of Kamlesh Tiwari, the leader of a political party in Uttar Pradesh who was killed at his residence in Lucknow on Friday, Director-General of UP Police O.P. Singh said at a press conference in Lucknow today.



Of the five, three were taken into custody in Surat in Gujarat during a joint operation between the police forces of the two states.  The two other arrests were those of Muslim clerics – Mohammed Mufti Naeem Kazmi and Imam Maulana Anwarul Haq – from western UP’s Bijnor district who had been named in an FIR filed by Tiwari’s wife. Some other  accused of the attack on the president of Hindu Samaj Party, are still on the run, NDTV reported.



“The three persons who have been taken into custody in Surat are Mohsin Sheikh, Faizan and Rashid Ahmed. So far there is no terror angle associated with this incident,” Singh said.
 

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The Buck Stopped Here: Village Head and Three Brothers among the 51 Accused in Sonbhadra Massacre

Gayatri Korgaonkar 16 Oct 2019

The Indian Express reported that a chargesheet has been filed in the case of the Sonbhadra massacre on Monday, October 14. The chargesheet names head of the attacked village Yagyadutt, three of his brothers, and one Vijay as the culprits of the indiscriminate shooting that took place at the village of Umbha, Sonbhadra over a land dispute among the accused and the tribals.


Sonbhadra lynching, Sonbhadra Massacre

The carnage
It was on July 17, 2019 that the brewing conflict, essentially a battle of Adivasis for their land and tilling rights, boiled over. Yagyadutt led a large group of the dominant, land-owning Gujjar community to indiscriminately fire guns at Gond tribals. Reportedly, close to 300 men who were atop 32 tractors rode onto the farmlands that belong to these tribals and started firing at the Umbha village of Sonbhadra. The incident occurred on July 17 when villagers belonging to the Gond community were farming the disputed land. A group of people led by Yagyadutt went to take possession of the land which they claimed was purchased by him and his relatives two years ago. They indiscriminately fired at the villagers, killing 11 of them and injuring 21 persons.
After the attack, the police seized five firearms, (including three double-barrel and one single-barrel gun), 19 tractors and 12 sticks.

Here is a quick recap of the issue.

The conflict
The district of Sonbhadra, while being one of the most backward in Uttar Pradesh, is also prime real estate for industrialisation. Nicknamed the ‘power capital of India’, it produces at least 12,000 MW of power, with 32 major plants, factories and mines dotting the area. The district has had aluminium and chemical factories, a cement plant and a steel plant established in the 1960s, and the reserves of coal, bauxite, limestone, and gold make it riper for mining-related investment.  

The Gonds have been tilling land of Umbha, a village in Sonbhadra since before independence. Other than being their home, this land has played a role in their formation of a cultural identity. In the year 1952, 639 bighas of the area’s land was declared to be a ‘gaonsamajbhumi’⁠—land owned by the village Gram Sabha under the Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950.

However, in 1955, Maheshwari Prasad Sinha used political connections of his IAS son-in-law Prabhat Kumar Mishra to get this very land transferred to a charitable society which he had formed in Sonbhadra. Sinha’s daughter and Mishra’s wife Asha Mishra was made the manager of the society of about 463 bighas of land. In 1989, another 200 bighas of this land was transferred to Asha.

In 2017, Yagyadutt bought 144 bighas of this land from Vinita, daughter of Prabhat Kumar Mishra. The Gond tribals complained to the revenue authorities and approached the court against what they termed was an illegal sale. Ownership of that much land by one person also goes against Land Ceiling law. Yagyadutt thereafter lodged FIRs against the Gonds for “encroaching” on his land.

Thus, the Gond tribals had their unequivocal right to their land put in jeopardy by a few Savarna politicos playing the system and misusing their power. (Read Systematic betrayal of the Adivasis since independence for more detailed coverage)

The chargesheet
Prabhakar Chaudhary, Sonbhadra’s Superintendent of Police, (SP) stated that this chargesheet has been prepared on the basis of scientific evidence along with statements made by 123 people. He told the Indian Express, “The role of 59 people has come to light. Fifty-five of them have been arrested and four others are on the run. On Monday, we filed the chargesheet against 51 of in a local court of Sonbhadra. The court has fixed October 24 for taking cognizance of the chargesheet,”

The chargesheet specifically states that Yagyadutt, his brothers Nidhidutt, Devdutt and Dharmendra, and one Vijay fired guns at the Gond tribals. It states that after Nidhidutt got injured at some point, another accused Neeraj Rai fired using his double-barrel gun. Most of the other persons charged are also related to Yagyadutt.

The chargesheet also names Komal Singh, suspended superintendent of Bhadohi railway station, as a key conspirator in the case. He spoke to Yagyadutt and Dharmendra five times each at the time of the crime. The document also notes that another railway employee contacted Yagyadutt 16 times and Dharmendra 17 times on the day of the killings.

The police has applied IPC sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly in prosecution of common object), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 34 (acts done in furtherance of common intention) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy), in addition to the SC/ST Act and Arms Act. It has been reported that the UP Schedule Caste/Schedule Tribe Commission also asked the state government to invoke the National Security Act and the Gangster Act against the alleged culprits.

Can the meek inherit the Earth?
The hubris displayed by Yagyadutt and his associates might come as a rude shock to the uninitiated, but it comes as no surprise when one looks into all the injustices that adivasis suffer from ever so often. The cards are almost always stacked against them.

With respect to this incident, the village head, who is duty-bound to protect the interests of the villagers, has been been trying to unceremoniously turn the Gond tribals into encroachers of their own land, they are considerably socio-economically disadvantaged as opposed to their Gujjar adversary, the Ghorawal police has been accused of working hand-in-glove with Yagyadutt and helping him with every move since 2017, and now they have had their lives threatened over the property.

Even on a national scale, adivasis are often treated as the invisible class. The government does not provide any assistance to tribal applicants trying to assert their right over forest land, as a result of which lakhs of tribals are not facing eviction from their homes.

Against all odds, however, the tribal communities continue to fight back. Adivasi rights activists from Sonbhadra and other tribal-populated areas have found strength in numbers and collectively assist other tribals in making land claims and raising a voice against discrimination.

Adivasi rights activists Sokalo Gond and Nivada Rana are now seeking court intervention through an intervention application which is supported by CJP and the All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP). (CJP has been actively campaigning for the rights of forest-dwellers. You can have a look at our work here.)

As Sokalo Gond (Sonbhadra native and member of All India Union of Forest Working Peoples) said to Scroll.in, “We have to stand with each other and with all the other communities who live in the forest. Even though there has been a stay order from the Supreme Court, we have to continue to show the people in charge that we are not afraid of asking for our rights.”

Related:
  1. “Jaan de denge lekin zamin nahi denge” (we will give our lives but not the land): Sonbhadra
  2. Forest Dwellers have no support from Gov’t in filing Land Claims: Roma
  3. Pellets in MP village, villagers severely injured accused of “encroaching” their own lands
 
 
 
 

The Buck Stopped Here: Village Head and Three Brothers among the 51 Accused in Sonbhadra Massacre

The Indian Express reported that a chargesheet has been filed in the case of the Sonbhadra massacre on Monday, October 14. The chargesheet names head of the attacked village Yagyadutt, three of his brothers, and one Vijay as the culprits of the indiscriminate shooting that took place at the village of Umbha, Sonbhadra over a land dispute among the accused and the tribals.


Sonbhadra lynching, Sonbhadra Massacre

The carnage
It was on July 17, 2019 that the brewing conflict, essentially a battle of Adivasis for their land and tilling rights, boiled over. Yagyadutt led a large group of the dominant, land-owning Gujjar community to indiscriminately fire guns at Gond tribals. Reportedly, close to 300 men who were atop 32 tractors rode onto the farmlands that belong to these tribals and started firing at the Umbha village of Sonbhadra. The incident occurred on July 17 when villagers belonging to the Gond community were farming the disputed land. A group of people led by Yagyadutt went to take possession of the land which they claimed was purchased by him and his relatives two years ago. They indiscriminately fired at the villagers, killing 11 of them and injuring 21 persons.
After the attack, the police seized five firearms, (including three double-barrel and one single-barrel gun), 19 tractors and 12 sticks.

Here is a quick recap of the issue.

The conflict
The district of Sonbhadra, while being one of the most backward in Uttar Pradesh, is also prime real estate for industrialisation. Nicknamed the ‘power capital of India’, it produces at least 12,000 MW of power, with 32 major plants, factories and mines dotting the area. The district has had aluminium and chemical factories, a cement plant and a steel plant established in the 1960s, and the reserves of coal, bauxite, limestone, and gold make it riper for mining-related investment.  

The Gonds have been tilling land of Umbha, a village in Sonbhadra since before independence. Other than being their home, this land has played a role in their formation of a cultural identity. In the year 1952, 639 bighas of the area’s land was declared to be a ‘gaonsamajbhumi’⁠—land owned by the village Gram Sabha under the Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950.

However, in 1955, Maheshwari Prasad Sinha used political connections of his IAS son-in-law Prabhat Kumar Mishra to get this very land transferred to a charitable society which he had formed in Sonbhadra. Sinha’s daughter and Mishra’s wife Asha Mishra was made the manager of the society of about 463 bighas of land. In 1989, another 200 bighas of this land was transferred to Asha.

In 2017, Yagyadutt bought 144 bighas of this land from Vinita, daughter of Prabhat Kumar Mishra. The Gond tribals complained to the revenue authorities and approached the court against what they termed was an illegal sale. Ownership of that much land by one person also goes against Land Ceiling law. Yagyadutt thereafter lodged FIRs against the Gonds for “encroaching” on his land.

Thus, the Gond tribals had their unequivocal right to their land put in jeopardy by a few Savarna politicos playing the system and misusing their power. (Read Systematic betrayal of the Adivasis since independence for more detailed coverage)

The chargesheet
Prabhakar Chaudhary, Sonbhadra’s Superintendent of Police, (SP) stated that this chargesheet has been prepared on the basis of scientific evidence along with statements made by 123 people. He told the Indian Express, “The role of 59 people has come to light. Fifty-five of them have been arrested and four others are on the run. On Monday, we filed the chargesheet against 51 of in a local court of Sonbhadra. The court has fixed October 24 for taking cognizance of the chargesheet,”

The chargesheet specifically states that Yagyadutt, his brothers Nidhidutt, Devdutt and Dharmendra, and one Vijay fired guns at the Gond tribals. It states that after Nidhidutt got injured at some point, another accused Neeraj Rai fired using his double-barrel gun. Most of the other persons charged are also related to Yagyadutt.

The chargesheet also names Komal Singh, suspended superintendent of Bhadohi railway station, as a key conspirator in the case. He spoke to Yagyadutt and Dharmendra five times each at the time of the crime. The document also notes that another railway employee contacted Yagyadutt 16 times and Dharmendra 17 times on the day of the killings.

The police has applied IPC sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly in prosecution of common object), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 34 (acts done in furtherance of common intention) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy), in addition to the SC/ST Act and Arms Act. It has been reported that the UP Schedule Caste/Schedule Tribe Commission also asked the state government to invoke the National Security Act and the Gangster Act against the alleged culprits.

Can the meek inherit the Earth?
The hubris displayed by Yagyadutt and his associates might come as a rude shock to the uninitiated, but it comes as no surprise when one looks into all the injustices that adivasis suffer from ever so often. The cards are almost always stacked against them.

With respect to this incident, the village head, who is duty-bound to protect the interests of the villagers, has been been trying to unceremoniously turn the Gond tribals into encroachers of their own land, they are considerably socio-economically disadvantaged as opposed to their Gujjar adversary, the Ghorawal police has been accused of working hand-in-glove with Yagyadutt and helping him with every move since 2017, and now they have had their lives threatened over the property.

Even on a national scale, adivasis are often treated as the invisible class. The government does not provide any assistance to tribal applicants trying to assert their right over forest land, as a result of which lakhs of tribals are not facing eviction from their homes.

Against all odds, however, the tribal communities continue to fight back. Adivasi rights activists from Sonbhadra and other tribal-populated areas have found strength in numbers and collectively assist other tribals in making land claims and raising a voice against discrimination.

Adivasi rights activists Sokalo Gond and Nivada Rana are now seeking court intervention through an intervention application which is supported by CJP and the All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP). (CJP has been actively campaigning for the rights of forest-dwellers. You can have a look at our work here.)

As Sokalo Gond (Sonbhadra native and member of All India Union of Forest Working Peoples) said to Scroll.in, “We have to stand with each other and with all the other communities who live in the forest. Even though there has been a stay order from the Supreme Court, we have to continue to show the people in charge that we are not afraid of asking for our rights.”

Related:
  1. “Jaan de denge lekin zamin nahi denge” (we will give our lives but not the land): Sonbhadra
  2. Forest Dwellers have no support from Gov’t in filing Land Claims: Roma
  3. Pellets in MP village, villagers severely injured accused of “encroaching” their own lands
 
 
 
 

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A week down, Murder of Bandhu Prakash Pal reveals no links to RSS: Murshirdabad

Sabrangindia 15 Oct 2019
Forty year old Bandhu Prakash Pal who was murdered last week with his pregnant wife, Beauty and eight-year old son, Angan fell prey to a nasty monetary dispute, police has revealed. Besides, he had no links to the RSS, despite claims by Union Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad and BJP leader, Sambhit Patra. Clearly these claims were to give a political slant to the murder.

Murshidabad

Murshidabad SP Mukesh Kumar told the media, "The accused has been identified as Utpal Behera and he has confessed to killing Pal, his wife and child."Behera is a resident of Sahapur village in Sagardighi. He lives in the same village where Pal grew up and stayed before moving to Jiaganj. It is also not insignificant that Murshidabad is a Muslim dominated district.
 
The SP further said, "The victim was a teacher by profession but he was also active in selling insurance policies. Behera stated that he took one policy of PNB Met life from the deceased and paid Rs 24,000 as instalment, but he was not given any receipt. So he was annoyed with the deceased."
 
"The accused called the victim and was abused by him. So he was very angry and decided to take revenge. On October 5, the accused went to Jiaganj to purchase a sharp weapon. On October 7, he again went there again and inspected the area. And on October 8, he attacked the family and killed them," the SP said.
 
"We are sending the accused to 14 days police custody," he added. Pal was a school teacher who worked in Gosaigram Sahapara Primary school. Pal, his wife pregnant wife and son were all brutally murdered. The incident came to light after the neighbours found the bodies inside their house and informed the police.
 
Further, as per the police, Behara had invested in an insurance company co-owned by Pal. He alleged that Pal failed to return his money, a sum of Rs 24,000, and also verbally abused him. Hence, to seek revenge, he wiped out his entire family. Making quick political capital, BJP leaders had gone to town on social media last week. Patra had said, “Gruesome video This has shaken my conscience ...a RSS worker Sh Bandhu Prakash Pal, his eight months pregnant wife & his kid were brutally slaughtered in West Bengal’s Murshidabad Not a word by the liberals Not a letter by 59 liberals to Mamata Nauseating Selectivism!."India Today  took a conscious decision not to share sensitive images of the incident.
 
Reacting to the incident, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar said, "I am in deep pain. My heart is bleeding. What was in Murshidabad, a brutal murder took place, putting humanity to shame. A teacher, his pregnant wife and eight-year-old child were killed in a barbaric manner and there has been no response from the state machinery so far. This is a very, very serious reflection of the situation we are living in. I would urge the authority for a quick and real investigation."
 
 
 
 
 

A week down, Murder of Bandhu Prakash Pal reveals no links to RSS: Murshirdabad

Forty year old Bandhu Prakash Pal who was murdered last week with his pregnant wife, Beauty and eight-year old son, Angan fell prey to a nasty monetary dispute, police has revealed. Besides, he had no links to the RSS, despite claims by Union Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad and BJP leader, Sambhit Patra. Clearly these claims were to give a political slant to the murder.

Murshidabad

Murshidabad SP Mukesh Kumar told the media, "The accused has been identified as Utpal Behera and he has confessed to killing Pal, his wife and child."Behera is a resident of Sahapur village in Sagardighi. He lives in the same village where Pal grew up and stayed before moving to Jiaganj. It is also not insignificant that Murshidabad is a Muslim dominated district.
 
The SP further said, "The victim was a teacher by profession but he was also active in selling insurance policies. Behera stated that he took one policy of PNB Met life from the deceased and paid Rs 24,000 as instalment, but he was not given any receipt. So he was annoyed with the deceased."
 
"The accused called the victim and was abused by him. So he was very angry and decided to take revenge. On October 5, the accused went to Jiaganj to purchase a sharp weapon. On October 7, he again went there again and inspected the area. And on October 8, he attacked the family and killed them," the SP said.
 
"We are sending the accused to 14 days police custody," he added. Pal was a school teacher who worked in Gosaigram Sahapara Primary school. Pal, his wife pregnant wife and son were all brutally murdered. The incident came to light after the neighbours found the bodies inside their house and informed the police.
 
Further, as per the police, Behara had invested in an insurance company co-owned by Pal. He alleged that Pal failed to return his money, a sum of Rs 24,000, and also verbally abused him. Hence, to seek revenge, he wiped out his entire family. Making quick political capital, BJP leaders had gone to town on social media last week. Patra had said, “Gruesome video This has shaken my conscience ...a RSS worker Sh Bandhu Prakash Pal, his eight months pregnant wife & his kid were brutally slaughtered in West Bengal’s Murshidabad Not a word by the liberals Not a letter by 59 liberals to Mamata Nauseating Selectivism!."India Today  took a conscious decision not to share sensitive images of the incident.
 
Reacting to the incident, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar said, "I am in deep pain. My heart is bleeding. What was in Murshidabad, a brutal murder took place, putting humanity to shame. A teacher, his pregnant wife and eight-year-old child were killed in a barbaric manner and there has been no response from the state machinery so far. This is a very, very serious reflection of the situation we are living in. I would urge the authority for a quick and real investigation."
 
 
 
 
 

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Sabrang

Mob lynches labourer in Jharkhand

Sabrangindia 08 Oct 2019

Sunil Yadav, a 32 year old daily wage labourer was brutally lynched in Koderma district on Friday evening by a mob that accused him of being a child lifter. Yadav died of his injuries the following day. 


Mob Lynching

According to his brother Dilip Yadav's statement to the police, Sunil would travel from Hazaribagh to Koderma every day looking for work. Sunil was allegedly locked up in a room and brutally beaten by a mob that accused him of kidnapping children. Afterwards he was left to die by the side of the road. However, he somehow managed to reach a private clinic and call his brother and narrate the incident. 

That's when Dilip rushed to Koderma and shifted Sunil to Sadar Hospital, where Sunil breathed his last on Saturday. According to Dilip, the incident took place in Railway Colony on Friday evening and he has accused three railway officials of being the assailants. Yadav's anguished family held a sit in protest on the Ranchi-Patna highway near Koderma Sadar Hospital. The protest lasted over an hour and ended only after the police and  local legislator Janki Yadav promised action against the culprits.

Koderma sub divisional police officer Rajendra Prasad discarded child lifting rumours, but said Yadav had been accused of committing theft. He said, “It is true that the victim [Sunil Yadav] was beaten up by residents of a [Koderma] locality after he was caught red-handed committing a theft.’’ He added that police have filed a case on the complaint lodged by Dilip Yadav. “Investigation has already commenced. We are waiting for the postmortem report,” said Prasad.

Mob lynches labourer in Jharkhand

Sunil Yadav, a 32 year old daily wage labourer was brutally lynched in Koderma district on Friday evening by a mob that accused him of being a child lifter. Yadav died of his injuries the following day. 


Mob Lynching

According to his brother Dilip Yadav's statement to the police, Sunil would travel from Hazaribagh to Koderma every day looking for work. Sunil was allegedly locked up in a room and brutally beaten by a mob that accused him of kidnapping children. Afterwards he was left to die by the side of the road. However, he somehow managed to reach a private clinic and call his brother and narrate the incident. 

That's when Dilip rushed to Koderma and shifted Sunil to Sadar Hospital, where Sunil breathed his last on Saturday. According to Dilip, the incident took place in Railway Colony on Friday evening and he has accused three railway officials of being the assailants. Yadav's anguished family held a sit in protest on the Ranchi-Patna highway near Koderma Sadar Hospital. The protest lasted over an hour and ended only after the police and  local legislator Janki Yadav promised action against the culprits.

Koderma sub divisional police officer Rajendra Prasad discarded child lifting rumours, but said Yadav had been accused of committing theft. He said, “It is true that the victim [Sunil Yadav] was beaten up by residents of a [Koderma] locality after he was caught red-handed committing a theft.’’ He added that police have filed a case on the complaint lodged by Dilip Yadav. “Investigation has already commenced. We are waiting for the postmortem report,” said Prasad.

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