A Jharkhand legislator, who is contesting the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, has been booked on charges of ordering the killing of a 25-year-old man who had eloped with a woman belonging to another caste.
Residents of Chandrapura town in Bokaro district on Friday sat on a dharna with the body of Santosh Pandey in protest against Dumri MLA Jagarnath Mahato of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM). Pandey had eloped with the woman on March 8.
His brother Anant Lal alleged that Mahato, the JMM candidate from Giridih Lok Sabha constituency, tracked down the couple in Chennai and had them brought back to Jharkhand.
On Thursday morning, Mahato allegedly held a kangaroo court at Simrakulhi village in Bokaro district and decreed that Pandey be “punished” for bringing shame upon the woman’s family and members of the community.
“Within minutes, at least 10 people — which included the legislator’s brother Baidyanath — started brutally thrashing the man with lathis, kicks and blows,” said an eyewitness on the condition of anonymity.
Pandey’s relatives later rushed him to Chandrapura hospital, where he succumbed due to severe internal injuries and bleeding. “We have a video recording of the victim’s statement, and he has accused the legislator and six other associates of mercilessly beating him up. We are investigating the case,” said Jharkhand police spokesperson Anurag Gupta.
A case under Sections 302/34 of the IPC has been lodged against Mahato and six others, including his brother.
Mahato denied any involvement in the case. “I have nothing to do with Pandey’s murder. I was not even present when the incident took place. If my brother is found guilty, he will go to jail,” he said.
The incident has deeply angered the Brahmin community that has decided not to vote for Mahato. “Mahato has committed a heinous crime. He orchestrated the killing. We will not excuse him,” said 32-year-old Chandrapura resident Santosh Pandey, who shares his name with the victim.
Mahato is the second legislator in Jharkhand facing honour killing charges. Congress MLA from Khijri constituency Sawna Lakra is in jail for abducting and murdering a youth in 2011 for allegedly having an affair with his married granddaughter.