Jharkhand court convicts 12 cow vigilantes for lynching Muslim trader

A 100-strong mob last year lynched Alimuddin alias Asgar Ali, a 45-year-old Muslim trader, on the suspicion that he was carrying beef in his car.

india Updated: Mar 17, 2018 09:15 IST
Bedanti Saran
Bedanti Saran
Hindustan Times, Ranchi
Jharkhand lynching,Muslim trader lynched,cow vigilantes
The car belonging to trader Alimuddin alias Asgar Ali that was burnt by a mob in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh town last June.(HT file)

A fast-track court in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh district on Friday convicted 12 cow vigilantes, including a local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, of lynching a 55-year-old Muslim trader who, they claimed ,was carrying beef in his vehicle.

The court of additional district judge Om Prakash said it would pronounce the sentence on March 21 .

The accused were found guilty under Section 302 (murder) — which carries a minimum punishment of life imprisonment and a maximum of the death penalty — and other offences under the Indian Penal Code.

“This is the first case related to cow vigilantism in the country in which the accused have been convicted,” said additional public prosecutor Sushil Kumar Shukla.

The incident took place on June 29 last year, when a 100-strong mob lynched Alimuddin alias Asgar Ali, a 45-year-old Muslim trader, on suspicion that he was carrying beef in his car. The attack took place at Bazartand in Ramgarh town, about 45km from the state capital Ranchi. The mob, comprising some Bajrang Dal activists, also set ablaze Ansari’s Maruti van after killing him.

On the day of the incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had warned against mob attacks on cattle traders, beef-eaters and dairy farmers, saying killing people in the name of protecting cows was unacceptable.

MVenkaiah Naidu, the then urban development minister, had also condemned the incident, terming it barbaric.

The fast-track court convicted Santosh Singh, Chottu Verma, Deepak Mishra, Vicky Saw, Sikandar Ram, Uttam Ram, Vikram Prasad, Raju Kumar, Rohit Thakur, local BJP leader Nityanand Mahto and Kapil Thakur. It also convicted another suspect, who the defence said was a minor.

Last year, the BJP-ruled Jharkhand witnessed a series of lynchings of Muslim cattle traders. In May, a mob lynched four Muslim cattle traders at a village in Saraikelka Kharswan district after accusing them of being child traffickers.

The incident rocked Parliament, with several opposition leaders questioning the government’s seriousness in cracking down on cow vigilantism. Facing flak, the state government led by chief minister Raghubar Das warned police officers that they would be held responsible for any mob lynching reported from their area. The state also approached the Jharkhand high court, requesting that it constitute a fast-track court to try the Ramgarh lynching case. The police filed a charge sheet on September 2017 and as many as 19 prosecution witnesses were examined in the case.

First Published: Mar 16, 2018 19:44 IST