Jharkhand lynching case: 11 cow vigilantes get life sentence for killing Muslim trader
Muslim trader Alimuddin Ansari aka Asgar Ali was lynched by a mob on June 29 at Bazartand in Ramgarh for allegedly transporting beef.india Updated: Mar 21, 2018 22:57 IST
A fast-track court in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh district on Wednesday sentenced 11 people, including one local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker, to life imprisonment for lynching a Muslim trader they suspected of transporting beef last year. The court didn’t decide on a 12th convict who is reported to be a minor.
The court of additional district judge Om Prakash had held the 11 men guilty under section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), among other offences, on March 16.
The 11 men — Santosh Singh, Chottu Verma, Deepak Mishra, Vicky Saw, Sikandar Ram, Uttam Ram, Vikram Prasad, Raju Kumar, Rohit Thakur, Kapil Thakur and BJP worker Nityanand Mahto — were convicted of murdering Alimuddin Ansari alias Asgar Ali, a 55-year-old trader, on June 29 last year. The convicts were also fined Rs 2,000 each.
Additional public prosecutor Sushil Kumar Shukla said this was the first case of cow vigilantism in the country in which the accused were convicted and punished.
“However, the court is yet to decide on the defence counsel’s contention that the 12th convict is a juvenile. We have opposed it on the grounds that he is over 16 years of age,” he added.
Defence lawyer DN Singh said he will file an appeal against the convictions in the Jharkhand high court.
The court has forwarded its order to the district legal services authority, so it can initiate steps to compensate the victim’s family.
The victim’s wife, Mariam Khatun, welcomed the judgment. “The death of my husband came as an irreparable loss. The accused deserved nothing less,” she said.
Last June, a mob, allegedly of more than 100 people, lynched Alimuddin alias Asgar Ali, who was on his way back home after buying meat from a local market, on the suspicion that he was carrying beef.
The mob surrounded him at Bazartand in Ramgarh town, about 45km from the state capital Ranchi, and set his van on fire after killing him. Cow slaughter is banned in Jharkhand.
The lynching occurred just hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned against such attacks by vigilante group, saying the killing of people in the name of protecting cows was unacceptable.
Similar cases of cow vigilante violence — including the lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri in 2015 and that of Pehlu Khan in Rajasthan’s Alwar in 2017 — remain at the trial stage.
Ansari’s lynching followed a string of similar attacks in Jharkhand by cow vigilantes last year. The attack rocked Parliament with several opposition leaders questioning the administration’s resolve to tame cow vigilantes.
In the face of widespread criticism, the state government warned officers-in-charge of police stations across Jharkhand that they would be held responsible for any such incident taking place in their jurisdiction.
The state government also requested the Jharkhand high court to constitute a special fast-track court to try the Ramgarh lynching incident. Police filed the charge sheet in September, and the trial was completed in less than six months.