Activists slam BJP silence on Gumla lynching
Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, which terms itself as a group of progressive outfits, on Thursday said the recent lynching of a Christian Adivasi man for carving flesh from a dead ox in a Gumla village 180km from the capital was an instance of intolerance against minorities and tribals amid polarised 2019 Lok Sabha elections, and pointed out that the ruling BJP was silent on the issue.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Gumla on April 24, which will mark the 14th day of the assault on the four men carving the ox on the side of Jurmu river in the village of the same name by a mob led by the Sahu community from neighbouring Jairagi village. On April 10, Prakash Lakra, 50, died instantly, his friends Peter Kerketta, B. Minj and J. Minj were severely injured.
Chhath rituals are also performed in the river.
Sharing the findings of an independent inquiry with the media here at XISS, the Mahasabha claimed the mob led by the Sahus branded the quartet “cow slaughterers” and while chanting Ram and Bajrangbali slogans, proceeded to beat them up. More alarmingly, Dumri police did not display urgency in arresting the assaulters or get the injured treated, claimed the outfit. The BJP’s Lohardaga MP and junior minister for tribal affairs Sudarshan Bhagat, whose constituency includes these Gumla areas, and who is seeking a second term, had not paid Jurmu a visit, the activists pointed out.
Member Saroj Hembrom pointed out that not only had the BJP MP skipped visiting the victims’ families, none of his party’s leaders had condemned the crime. “Their silence gives the violence a seal of tacit approval at a time Lohardaga constituency is geared to vote on April 29,” Hembrom, a human rights activist, said. “It also exposes the plans of the party (BJP) to polarise votes on religious lines.”
The Mahasabha also demanded the Opposition alliance to “break their silence” and show solidarity with the tribals on this issue.
“So far, only two in the mob have been arrested. Also, the injured had not been given timely treatment (by the police),” said Afzal Anees, one of the Mahasabha members. Fellow member Bharat Bhushan Choudhary said some sections of Adivasis and other communities such as Ghasis and Lohras had always traditionally been beef-eaters.
The outfit, with other members such as advocates Shadab Ansari and Sonal Tiwari and social worker Siraj Dutta, demanded immediate withdrawal of the “fake” cow slaughter case filed against the tribals and arrests of all perpetrators of violence under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, action against Dumri police for alleged delay in arranging medical treatment for victims and filing false cases of cow slaughter, interim compensation of Rs 15 lakh for the deceased’s family and Rs 10 lakh for each of the injured, implementation of Supreme Court order on lynching and withdrawal of The Jharkhand Bovine Animal Prohibition of Slaughter Act for being a direct attack on people’s livelihoods and right to food of their choice.
Noted economist and human rights activist Jean Dreze was noticed sitting quietly in the audience.