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Fear and sleepless nights haunt Jharkhand village which lost 3 men to mob frenzy

Three of the four Muslim men lynched in Sobhapur village were cattle traders from Haldipokhar.

india Updated: May 21, 2017 12:45 IST
B Vijay Murty
B Vijay Murty
Hindustan Times, Haldipokhar
Children abduction rumours in Jharkhand,Tribal mob lynching,Mob justice
Villagers of Haldipokhar showing videos of lynching gone viral at a late night villagers meeting in East Singhbhum on May 20.(Parwaz Khan/ HT Photo)

It’s 2 am and people are still awake in this village comprising some 1,200 odd families, all Muslims.

Outside mukhiya (panchayat head) Syed Zabiullah’s house, a crowd of 100 or more people are in a serious discussion on the lynching of three youth of the village on Thursday by an irate mob in neighbouring Sobhapur village that falls in Seraikela-Kharsawan district.

Senior administrative officials had just left after speaking to the victims’ families and tried to offer them compensation of Rs 2 lakh each. They flatly declined.

HT travelled to the village, Haldipokhar, around 20km from Jamshedpur to speak to the victims’ families.

There was an uneasy calm. People haven’t slept for the last three days. Fear stalked the residents, especially men, who are in various businesses that require travelling to tribal areas.

Courtesy rumours of lifting of children that have spread like wildfire in the last fortnight across the tribal heartland, nine people — five Muslims and four Hindus — have been lynched in four separate incidents. Haldipokhar men now fear for both their lives and livelihood.

Squatted in the midst of community leaders discussing the next course of action, Seikh Imteyaz suddenly gets up and reacts angrily, showing a video grab of his brother Siraj being lynched by the frenzy mob.

“On Thursday around 4: 30am, I woke up to his call. He was gasping for breath and asked me to come immediately to rescue him. I picked up my bike and left for the village only to find him being mercilessly thrashed. They chased me too. I fled leaving my brother in the jaws of death,” he lamented.

That day four men, three of them from Haldipokhar identified as Sheikh Sajju (25), Sheikh Siraj (26) and Sheikh Halim (28) were lynched. The fourth victim, Md Naeem, 35, was from Ghatsila.

“Had the police acted promptly and took action when we called, the killings could have been averted. I kept calling the policemen, but they refused to respond,” said Zabiullah.

Three days have elapsed, but the killers are still at large. “We have given the police pictures and videos of those involved in the killings. They are known faces and we have identified some. If they are still not apprehended, our lives will be further at risk. This incident will create a big divide in the society here,” added Zabiullah.

No political leaders have visited the village. Local legislator Meneka Sardar of the BJP lives barely five kilometers away from Haldipokhar but she hasn’t visited the families to at least express condolences.

Villagers have submitted a memorandum to the chief minister through the deputy commissioner on Saturday demanding Rs 25 lakh as compensation, besides few other perks to kin of each dead.

First Published: May 21, 2017 07:19 IST