'State apathy' for lynch scars

Machinery making heroes out of violators, say visiting activists

By Our Special Correspondent in Ranchi
  • Published 13.09.18
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FACT-FINDING TOUR: IAS officer-turned-activist-author Harsh Mandar (centre), journalist-activist John Dayal (right) and retired IAS officer of Bihar MA Ibrahimi at the news conference in Ranchi on Wednesday. Telegraph picture

Ranchi: Most families who have faced hate crimes or lost a loved one to lynching in Jharkhand live in grave economic distress and fear while awaiting justice and greater compassion from the state and local administration.

This was observed by Karwan-e-Mohabbat, a civil society initiative led by former IAS-turned-activist-author Harsh Mander, journalist-activist John Dayal and retired IAS of Bihar M.A. Ibrahimi, while speaking to the media at the end of their four-day tour on Wednesday after visiting five families who faced hate crimes.

This comes a day after BJP president Amit Shah said in Jaipur they won elections even when "Akhlaq happened", referring to the lynching of Md Akhlaq in Uttar Pradesh in 2015.

The team met the Jamtara family of Minhaj Ansari, who died of beatings in police custody for allegedly having posted the picture of meat in a WhatsApp group, spoke to Giridih's Usman Ansari critically injured by a mob for suspected cow slaughter, spoke to the family of Ramesh Minj's of Garhwa district who was lynched over rumoured cow slaughter, as well as bereaved families of lynched cattle trader Majloom Ansari in Latehar and meat trader Alimuddin Ansari in Ramgarh.

The Karwan-e-Mohabbat team also met activist Stan Swamy in Ranchi on their arrival.

Since last September, Karwan-e-Mohabbat has been visiting families hit by hate violence, starting with Assam, to offer them solidarity and legal support wherever needed, and reporting ground realities and suggestions on their own to respective governments. Jharkhand was their 22nd state.

Mander added the justice-by-mob phenomenon had increased in recent years in India. But various governments' response to rehabilitate victims in the true form in sync with Supreme Court orders remained missing on the ground. Survivors and bereaved families lived in trauma and abject misery without proper state support in most cases, Mander said, adding, "Jharkhand is no different".

"And the trend we see nationally is that entire machinery is crafted in a way to make victims feel as if they are on the wrong end and make violators the heroes. Union civil aviation minister of state Jayant Sinha garlanding a few (lynch) accused in his constituency (Hazaribagh) is one such symbol," Mander said.

He added, "Widows of Ramesh, Majloom and Alimuddin told us they had not received any tangible assistance despite assurances. They live in constant fear of threat."

Dayal said it was the state's job to effectively rehabilitate survivors and ensure they lived without fear. "But that sensitivity is missing, not just here but in other states too, be it Kerala, Rajasthan, Assam. People must question if they want to fall prey to political theatrics or speak up against these ills," he said.

He added they found an instance of compassion that moved them in an unexpected place. "Mariam, the widow of Alimuddin (who was brutally lynched openly on the road in Ramgarh in 2017) said she did not want those who killed her husband to be hanged," he said. Alimuddin's lynch case was the first in India to get a speedy trial where the lower court sentenced 11 out of 12 accused life terms but Jharkhand High Court later suspended the sentence of eight of the 11.

The team would write their findings to Jharkhand chief secretary Sudhir Tripathi, Mander said.