Repeat offender among suspects in lynching of Muslim man in Gujarat

On May 23, a Muslim man named Misri Khan Baloch was attacked and killed by a group of men in Diyodar, Gujarat.

In the month of May, as politicians were out campaigning and hate speech was on the rise a 40 year old breadwinner of a family was beaten to death in Gujarat on May 23.

Misri Khan Baloch was one such victim of a crime which local rights groups and family of the dead have called a targeted lynching. Among the accused are Akhiraj Singh and other men who are reportedly associated with cow vigilante groups and hold a previous record as well.

The incident took place while he was transporting buffaloes in a pickup van when a group of men who are reportedly cow vigilantes stopped the van by throwing iron nails on the ground and puncturing the tires. After it stopped they first tried to forcibly get money from him and his companion, demanding rupees 2 lakh. After they said they don’t have money, the men started beating them. The driver of the van managed to escape.

However, the situation became deadly for Misri as a mob gathered around the vehicle and started beating him up. He was beaten with iron rods and sticks on his head which soon led to his death.

The police, as per report by Indian Express, have refused to recognise it as a case of mob lynching, with Banaskantha Superintendent of Police Akshayraj Makwana, saying, “This incident is not a mob lynching. For an incident to be considered a mob lynching, it would need to have a communal aspect. It appears that the accused did not intend to murder but rather intimidate the deceased.”

The Indian Express has noted that Akheraj, one of the accused, has also been implicated in a similar matter of mob lynching in Banaskantha in July 2023 when a Muslim man named Umaid Baloch was similarly beaten by cow vigilantes, one of whom is a co-accused here.

According to a report in Two Circles, the driver who is also an eyewitness has stated the following in his complaint, naming the attackers as well, “At around 5 am, Mishrikhan, Jume Khan, our mother Biki and I set out in my pickup truck to the market in Gawadi. We noticed that a Scorpio was chasing us. Inside the SUV were Akheraj Singh Prabat Singh and others from Vatamwala. They were threatening to kill us.”

Two of the five accused have been detained after the police filed an FIR under sections of 302 (murder), 341 (wrongful restraint), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, being armed with a deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 506 (2) (criminal intimidation) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against five people Akherajsinh Parbatsinh Vaghela, Nikulsinh, Jagatsinh, Pravinsinh and Hamirbhai Thakor.

Misri Khan was a 40-year-old Muslim labourer and part-time farmer from Sesan Nava village and the breadwinner for his family.

An organisation called the Minority Coordination Committee Gujarat has called out the killing of Misri Khan as a case of mob lynching. The group has urged the Director General of Police to follow guidelines on mob lynching’s laid out by the Supreme Court.

In the 2018 verdict the Supreme Court, with a bench of Justice Deepak Mishra, A.M. Khanwalikar and DY Chandrachud, had directed states to all take preventive and proactive action against mob lynching, hate crimes, etc.



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