Even as Covid-19 numbers continue to surge, violent crimes, especially cases of lynching, do not seem to be abating. In the month of May alone, at least six incidents of lynching have been reported from different parts of the country.
Following an accident, a college student was allegedly lynched by a mob in Assam’s Jorhat district. The Telegraph reported Jorhat District Collector Roshni A. Korati as saying that Debashis Gogoi, the victim, had gone for sightseeing with seven of his friends on two-wheelers. Investigations showed that while they were on their way back home, one of the two-wheelers met with an accident, hitting two ladies and an infant. This incident took place while they were on their way back as the garden watchman stopped them from entering the premises. A large number of locals gathered there and beat Debashis up. However, reports by other media publications said that Debashis and his friend Aditya Das who were on a two-wheeler hit two women, both plantation workers in the accident. Aditya, who survived the lynching told The Hindu that their two-wheeler skidded and the accident took place in front of the garden’s tea factory. Just then, a large crowd gathered and began raining blows and kicks on the two boys.
Debashis succumbed to his injuries on May 30 at the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital. The police has reportedly arrested eight people in connection with the incident.
In another incident that took place on May 24, a vegetable vendor in Assam’s Kamrup district was beaten to death by a group of five men, reported The Wire. According to the report, Sanatan Deka, a vegetable vendor was returning from the market when his bicycle hit a car. Thereafter, the two occupants of the car got into an argument with him. Some people from the crowd joined the duo and began beating Deka. Though some people assembled and managed to take him to the hospital, he succumbed to his injuries.
In Uttar Pradesh’s Bhadohi, a 40-year-old man was killed in a clash which allegedly took place due to a financial dispute within the family, reported The Week. The incident reportedly took place on Sunday, May 7 and Nanhku Harijan, who had a financial dispute with his uncle and cousins at Khamaria at night was brutally beaten up, said the police. Though he was rushed to a hospital in Varanasi, he succumbed to his injuries in the early hours of Monday, May 8. The officer said that a case had been registered against four people in the matter.
In another incident that took place on May 31 in Bhadohi’s Bardhawan village, a man was beaten to death over a dispute related to drainage, reported Univarta. A man called Ramzan alias Guddu had a dispute with his neighbours Haleem, Kalam, Shehzad and Naseem over them stopping the drainage by blocking it with soil. Due to the heavy rain that night, and the drainage obstruction, the street got flooded. As the water started entering Ramzan’s home too, he started removing the soil from the drainage to let the water flow. An argument between him and his neighbours ensued and during this fight, Naseem beat Ramzan to death. According to a report by Dainik Jagran, Ramzan died after he sustained injuries to his head. His body was sent for a postmortem and the cause of death was confirmed to be the same. Ramzan’s wife lodged an attempt to murder complaint against the accused. One of the accused has been caught while the hunt for the rest is still on.
In UP’s Pratapgarh district, a 25-year old man was tied to a tree and set afire by the family of a woman with whom he was allegedly having an affair with, Hindustan Times reported. Abhishek Singh, Pratapgarh’s Superintendent of Police told HT that some people barged into the home of Ambika Patel and dragged him away. They then tied him to a tree and set him afire and fled from the spot. The police said that Patel’s family said he was having an affair with a woman from his village who had recently been selected for the role of a police constable. Due to this liaison, the families of the two involved had had many face-offs. The matter got seemingly exacerbated because Patel had recently shared a video clip of the woman on social media which increased friction between the families. In light of this, the woman’s family had filed a police complaint against him and he was arrested. The police said that Patel was only recently released from jail.
After the incident, Patel’s relatives demanded the immediate arrest of the perpetrators and some set two police vehicles on fire. An FIR has been lodged in the matter of Patel’s killing and the police is now making efforts to nab the accused.
A 23-year-old man from Bihar was allegedly attacked by a group of people in a residential area in Surat’s Bhestan area last Saturday, after locals mistook him for a thief, The Indian Express reported. According to the police, Sangam Jha a resident of the Sachin area and his friend Sujith Singh, an original resident of UP, were on their way home from Pandesara when they lost their way and entered a residential area in Bhestan.
Suspecting something awry, the residents raised an alarm thinking that the two were thieves and gathered on the spot and started beating them with sticks and iron rods. Jha lost his life on the spot, while Singh who sustained serious injuries is recuperating at the Surat Municipal Institution of Medical Education and Research hospital.
The FIR lodged by Singh named Satish Patel, a Congress corporator, as one of the accused. The FIR accessed by IE said that some youths of the residential society questioned Jha and Singh and raised an alarm by calling them thieves. They beat both of them with wooden sticks and iron rods on their heads and legs, injuring them severely. Sangam died on the spot after he suffered severe head injuries. More than seven accused have been booked for under Sections of the IPC related to murder, rioting and causing grievous hurt.
It is noteworthy that offences like lynchings have routinely targeted the marginalized, especially the minorities. Even then, there is no specific law to hold perpetrators in such cases accountable. The state governments of West Bengal, Manipur and Rajasthan have passed anti-lynching bills but they are yet to be examined by the Centre.