Minors lynched in India on accusation of cattle-theft

There has been a drastic rise in the number of attacks by cow vigilante groups ever since the Narendra Modi-led far-right Hindu nationalist government came into power in 2014.

July 29, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Mob Lynching in India

Lynchings by the right-wing vigilantes in India continues under the government of Narendra Modi. Two teenagers in the Indian states of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh were lynched on the accusation of stealing cattle and refusing to chant Hindu slogan ‘Jai Shri Ram’ (Hail Lord Ram). While a 14-year-old boy was beaten to death by a group of men in Adarsh Nagar in Delhi, another 15-year-old was set ablaze in Chandauli district in Uttar Pradesh after he refused to chant the Hindu slogan.

In Adarsh Nagar, the teenager was tied and thrashed badly inside a house on July 26 on accusation of cattle-theft. The minor was rushed to a hospital by the police, but he could not survive the attack. On July 29, in Chandauli district, a group of four men set a Muslim boy on fire after he refused to raise slogans demanded by the mob.

In both the incidents, the police denied that the victims had been the target of mob lynching and gave different versions of the reason and nature of their deaths. In Adarsh Nagar, police stated that the victim was a drug addict and that they suspected he had gone to the house to steal money. In Chandauli district, police claimed that the victim had set himself on fire before giving contradictory statements to their superior officers.

Meanwhile, on July 19, four persons were lynched in Bihar’s Saran district after a mob intercepted them in the village of Nandlal, leaving three dead and one injured. The victims were moving in a pick-up van to purchase cattle when the incident happened. One man, with multiple wounds across his body, is still battling for his life in a government hospital. The doctors have stated that his condition is critical.

The deceased have been identified as Naushad Quraishi, Raju Nut and Videsh Nut. Following the mob attack, hundreds of locals staged a protest against the government and the police, in front of the hospital where the surviving victim was being treated. The protesters demanded urgent action and justice for the victims from the State government led by Nitish Kumar, a long-time political ally of Narendra Modi and the BJP.

In Nandlal village, various far-right Hindu nationalist elements were reportedly spreading rumors about cattle theft a few days prior to the incident. Consequently, on Friday morning, several young Hindus in the village joined the vigilantes, carrying bamboo sticks, iron rods and bricks to attack the suspected cattle thieves.

The victims were reportedly thrashed ruthlessly and their heads were hit with bricks and bamboo sticks. There were deep cuts on their faces, heads and even on their throats, the eyewitnesses said.

Saran’s superintendent of police, Hari Kishore Rai, categorically denied that the incident was a case of mob lynching. “The villagers assaulted the victims on suspicion of cattle theft, and these persons have died on the way to hospital,” he said.

However, the family members of the victims, who hail from the nearby town of Chapra, refused the claims by police. “On Friday morning, they took the pick-up van to purchase cattle. It is a blatant lie to call them cattle thieves,” Hasan Quraishi, a relative of one of the victims, told NewsClick.

The opposition parties, including the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Indian National Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), and other members of the State legislature raised the issue of mob lynching in the Bihar State legislature on July 19.

“We had staged a protest against the mob lynching incidents in Bihar and across the country, but the government ignored our concerns,” Mahboob Alam, CPI-ML member of legislature, said. Incidents of ‘mob justice’ have become common in several parts of India, especially in states that are ruled by the BJP or their allies. Earlier this month, on July 2, a person named Budhi Kumar was lynched by the mob in a similar manner in Raishyabari in the BJP-ruled State of Tripura.

Ever since the far-right Hindu nationalist BJP came into power, under the leadership of prime minister Modi, in 2014, there has been a drastic rise in the number of attacks by cow vigilante groups. Around two dozen lynching incidents have been reported in the State of Bihar alone.

With inputs from NewsClick.