Eye witness Jalil Ansari was to depose before court in the case of mob lynching of Alimuddin Ansari in Ramgarh Court today, October 12, 2017. He was in the court when he received information that his wife met an accident and succumbed to the injuries on the spot. She was going to bring identity card of her husband which is required in court for identification purpose.
Jalil Ansari has also told human rights workers that members of Bajrang Dal threatened him and his wife in Court premises with dire consequences if they deposed before the Court. According to what he told human rights workers, when she (Jalil Ansari’s wife) left the Court with the son of Alimuddin Ansari to get the identification documents, their bike was hit from behind by a vehicle allegedly in a planned manner which led to her death.
The Indian Express had reported on July 8, 2017 that Police said that Raj Kumar, suspected to be a “newly recruited” member of the local gau raksha samiti, followed Ansari from the time he left a market 15 km from Ramgarh town on June 29. The meat trader was lynched in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh district, police announced the arrest of a man who followed the victim on the day of the killing, kept the key accused informed about his movement and joined in the assault that led to the death of Alimuddin Ansari. This has revealed the close nexus between the cow vigilantes and the local police especially in states run by the BJP.
Police had told the Indian Express that Raj Kumar, suspected to be a “newly recruited” member of the local gau raksha samiti, followed Ansari from the time he left a market 15 km from Ramgarh town on June 29. Kumar was detained on Wednesday and sent to judicial custody on Thursday, said police. Police also said that lab tests on samples of meat recovered from Ansari’s Maruti van after the assault have confirmed that it was beef. They said the group that attacked Ansari had earlier complained that he had “ferried prohibited meat many times”.
Eleven people had been arrested in the case, including the BJP’s district media in-charge and the main accused, Deepak Mishra and Chhotu Verma, both linked to the local gau raksha samiti.
According to police, Kumar is a resident of Chitarpur under the Rajrappa police station area in Ramgarh. “The main accused gave him the number of Ansari’s van and asked him to follow the vehicle. Call records reveal that Mishra and Verma were in touch with Kumar all along,” said Ramgarh SP Kishore Kaushal.
According to sources, Mishra claimed during questioning that he had hit Ansari only twice, and that a mob that gathered there took over. “The group used a police baton to hit Ansari, which led to serious injuries,” said a local officer, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The officer said that the accused had tried to get Ansari arrested earlier on charges of transporting beef but did not succeed.
“A few days before Eid, Verma and Mishra had raised this issue during a peace committee meeting at the Ramgarh police station. They alleged that people were ferrying beef across the city and police were not able to stop them. They were assured that action would be taken. A few days before the lynching, two persons were arrested for cattle smuggling after a tip-off from this group. But on the day they waylaid Ansari, they did not inform police,” said the officer.
“Ansari was aware of these complaints but continued to buy prohibited meat and sell it in different areas. He had a criminal record,” said the officer.
On July 19, soon after this horrific incident Ghulam Nabi Azad, the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, caused a stir in the upper house. Azad said that the recent spate of lynchings in the country was “not religious,” but was the “[Sangh] Parivar’s battle against everybody.” “In all the cases of lynching now, someone or the other belonging to the ruling party and the Sangh Parivar is involved,” Azad said. He further alleged that “there was an understanding” between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the central government, to allow such lynchings to continue.
The same day that Modi delivered the address, Bazar Tand, a market area with general stores, stationery shops, tea stalls, and vegetable sellers, located in Ramagarh in Jharkhand, witnessed the brutal murder of Alimuddin Ansari. A group of men lynched Ansari, who was in his 40s, for transporting cow meat in his car. As in other cases similar to his, Ansari’s killing was filmed, and the video was later circulated widely across social media. “Someone [who could be heard on the video] was saying, ‘make the video properly—his face should be visible,’” Shama Praveen, Ansari’s daughter, said. “Woh daya ki bheek maang rahe the, unke samne kam se kam 50-100 public hain, lekin sabki insaniyat mar chuki thi”—my father was begging for mercy, and there were at least 50–100 people in front of him, but their humanity had died.
Months before, in April 2017, Sagar, a correspondent with the Caravan magazine, submitted a Right to Information request to the Prime Minister’s Office, requesting details on what instructions, if any, the prime minister had given the home ministry to prevent such lynchings from occuring.
The PMO had denied my request, saying that my query could not be answered, as it was a “matter of opinion.” I appealed against this decision, but my request was denied once again. The appellate authority did so on the grounds that my “queries are framed in the nature of questionnaire whereby clarification/opinion have been sought with reference to PMO’s stand in the matter in hand.” The order added: “It is clarified that in the context that the information sought did not form part of the records of this office, calling given information not covered within the meaning of information under section 2(f) of the Act.” (Section 2(f) of the Right to Information Act defines the ambit of the term “information,” to include records such as documents, memos, e-mails, and opinions, among others.)
The journalist had had filed another RTI with the Home Ministry, wherein I had asked for information regarding the steps it had taken to stop such mob lynchings across the country. In its response, the ministry stated that on 9 August 2016, it had issued an advisory to all the states, asking them to be vigilant about such incidents.
A copy of this advisory was enclosed. Addressed to the chief secretaries, the first four points of the advisory—there were 9 points in all—referred to the need for cow protection.
The first point states that, “Historically cattle have a very special, respected and venerated status in Indian culture and history. In this regard, Father of the nation had stated ‘cow protection to me is not mere protection of the cow. It means protection of that (which) lives, is helpless and weak in the world.’” It then noted that Article 48 of the Constitution of India provided for the “preservation of cows.” Further, the advisory note quotes the seventh schedule of the constitution—which allocated the work of “Preservation, protection and improvement” of livestock to the state—to bolster its case for the requirement of cow protection.
The fifth point then says: “However, that doesn’t entitle any individual or group of persons to take action on their own to prevent the alleged slaughter or punish the alleged wrong doers.” It goes on to assert that no person can take the law into their own hands, and asks states to deal strictly with any individual who commits such violence in the name of cow-protection.
The Supreme Court is currently hearing a batch of petitions on the violent perpetrated in the name of cow vigilantism.