A 24-year-old man named Tabrez Ansari was attacked by a mob in Jhankhand’s Kharsawan district and beaten up mercilessly for hours on 18 June. He died in the hospital on 22 June, allegedly from the injuries.
The SP of Kharsawan told HuffPost India that Tabrez was handed over to the police after being beaten up and was in judicial custody since June 18. On the morning of 22 June, his condition worsened and he was taken to the hospital where he died. While many people were involved in the mob that beat up Tabrez, the primary accused — one Pappu Mandal — was arrested after his death.
“Tabrez was with two other men who had gone there to steal. The villagers caught them. While two of the men fled, Tabrez was caught by the villagers and beaten up,” Chandan Kumar Sinha, SP of Seraikella-Kharsawan told HuffPost India. The incident took place in Dhatkidih, roughly 10 kilometres from where Tabrez lived.
Aurungzeb Ansari, a Jharkhand-based activist, told HuffPost India that the man worked as a labourer and welder in Pune. A month ago, Tabrez returned to his village to get married and also celebrate Eid with his wife and family.
The activist said that on 18 June, Tabrez left for Jamshedpur at 5pm with two other men from his neighbourhood. On investigating, Ansari later found that the men he had left with has a ‘dubious’ reputation in the neighbourhood.
“Their background is slightly sketchy and Tabrez did not know them very well. I think he was manipulated into going with them, we are still speaking to locals and figuring the matter,” Ansari said.
He added that the mob accused Tabrez of being a thief and beat him up, while the other two men fled and has been absconding.
The entire incident of lynching was recorded and shared on WhatsApp and two of the videos have been shared by Ansari and a human rights lawyer with HuffPost India. In the first half-minute long video, Tabrez is shown squatting on a grassy patch of land as a mob stands behind him and shouts. One man, whose face is not visible, is seen hitting Tabrez with a wooden stick as the latter screams and begs to be let off. The clips don’t show the faces of the people in the mob.
The second is a ten-minute long video where Tabrez is seen tied to a pole, while men keep beating him with sticks. In the snatches of conversation in Hindi, the mob is heard accusing Tabrez of entering one of their houses. “Ghar main ghusega (You will enter the house?),” men are heard shouting at him. The young man is heard denying he entered the house and saying the other two men did, and he had no clue what was going on.
He is later heard saying he was asked to stand downstairs and the two men went inside a building. “I did not know anything,” he says.
Then the mob asks for his name and asks him to repeat it several times, while beating him. “People know me as Sonu in my village, they don’t call me Tabrez,” he says. They ask for names of the members of his family. A bike, that the other two men had left behind is also mentioned.
All this while, Tabrez is seen gasping for breath, crying and shrieking. The men in the mob keep threatening him that he will be ‘beaten up a lot’ that day.
They also comment on the absconding men and say that they have left him behind to get attacked. “My mother is dead. I am a Muslim, I am swearing on my mother, I did not...,” Tabrez is heard saying.
Towards the end of the video, the man asks people to step back, asks the victim to shut up and then demands Tabrez chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’. At first Tabrez shakes his head and soon enough, as the crowd starts chanting Jai Shri Ram, he is seen chanting the refrain along with them.
“Jai Shri Ram, Jai Shri Ram, Jai Shri Ram, Jai Hanuman,” Tabrez is seen chanting.
Ansari said he has appealed to the local police superintendent to investigate the matter and arrest both the Muslim men who accompanied Tabrez and the men who lynched him. “I am sure he was not a thief and was fooled by the other men, no one in the locality said Tabrez as having a criminal past. But even if someone is caught, you turn him to the police. He was beaten up for hours, made to chant Hindu religious slogans ― how is that a fair punishment,” Ansari said.
Seraikella-Kharsawan deputy SP confirmed that an FIR has been lodged in the incident on Saturday.
Jharkhand had witnessed a spate of lynchings in the past few years. In 2016, a Muslim cattle trader and a 12-year-old boy accompanying him was beaten up and killed by a mob and their bodies hung from a tree in Latehar district. Eight men were sentenced to life for the killings. In 2018, Union minister Jayant Sinha faced criticism for garlanding seven men accused of killing a Muslim tempo driver in Ramgarh on suspicion of smuggling cow meat. The men were later released on bail after which they met Sinha. BJP’s Raghubar Das, chief minister of Jharkhand, however had ordered ‘strict action’ against the ‘culprits’ responsible for the Ramgarh lynching incident.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more details emerge.