Gallant grandmom breathes her last

Toll in May 18 twin lynchings rises to 8

By Our Special Correspondent in Jamshedpur
  • Published 20.06.17
Grieving family members of Ramsakhi Devi (below) at their home in Jugsalai, Jamshedpur, on Monday. Picture by Bhola Prasad

Jamshedpur, June 19: The gutsy 76-year-old woman, who became the target of a lynch mob that had held three youths hostage on May 18 at Bagbera, died today without knowing two of her beloved grandsons were killed in the attack.

Ramsakhi Devi's death takes the toll in the twin lynchings of May 18 - one at Rajnagar in Seraikela-Kharsawan that morning and the other at Nagadih village in Bagbera panchayat of East Singhbum in the evening - to eight.

Four Muslim cattle traders were lynched in Rajnagar and three Hindu youths, Ramsakhi's two grandsons and their friend in Nagadih, Bagbera, all over purported child-lifting rumours that criminal elements in the mobs took advantage of.

Ramsakhi, hit on her head and body by the mob with boulders, fought for her life for a full month before succumbing to cardiac trauma and multiple organ failure at Tata Main Hospital at 2am today.

When Jugsalai brothers Vikas, Gautam and Uttam reached Nagadih to scout for customers and land for their new septic tank business, and were rounded up by the mob who suspected they were child-lifters, Ramsakhi was the first person the brothers called for help.

The resourceful elderly woman had called up Bagbera police, collected the youths' ID cards and requested the brothers' friend Gangesh Gupta to take her to Nagadih. Once there, she discovered the mob was in no mood to listen to her. When she tried to stop the crowd from thrashing her grandsons, she was hit by boulders.

Collapsing instantly, she never got to know Vikas, Gautam and Gangesh were killed by the mob, and that Uttam, her youngest grandson, could escape alive.

"She was on ventilation since June 3. In the hospital report, cause of death has been described as cardiac trauma, head injury, post-operative craniotomy and multiple organ failure," Uttam, the sole survivor of May 18, said today. "Our only comfort is that she did not learn my brothers were dead."

Uttam's father Manik Chandra Prasad said Ramsakhi's last rites would be held at Shiv Ghat in Jugsalai where his two sons were cremated last month.

Uttam said he couldn't sleep properly since May 18. "Ghastly scenes of the mob charging towards us disturb me. I also fear going out of home as I am afraid that the persons whose names figure in the FIR might harm me as I am an eyewitness in the case," he said.

So far, 16 people have been arrested for the Nagadih attack. The main accused, Nagadih mukhiya Rajaram Hansda, is absconding. Nineteen have been arrested for the Rajnagar lynching and 20 for the violence that erupted in Mango in protest of the Rajnagar murders.

Prasad, a small-time trader - he sold plastic bags till his sons convinced him to join their new septic tank business - said he was dismayed by the attitude of the administration and political leaders.

"No political leader visited us. Chief minister Raghubar Das stayed in Jamshedpur from June 16 night to June 19 morning but did not bother to visit us. The government sent us compensation (Rs 2 lakh for the deceased and Rs 50,000 for injured) which we returned. Our letters to the Prime Minister have drawn a blank. Police have not arrested the main accused yet. We are not satisfied with the action taken by the administration and government so far," Prasad said.

Earlier this month, Prasad's wife Kunti Devi wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and tweeted him using Uttam's Twitter handle, signing as "a most unfortunate mother", but did not get any reply.

Bagbera OC Ram Yash Prasad said they had issued warrant notices at houses of all absconding accused, including the mukhiya, and would begin attaching properties after the court's permission.