Catholics and secularists slam the lynching of a Muslim man in Jharkhand

Tabrez Ansari, 24, was tied to a pole, tortured for eight hours and forced to chant praises to Hindu gods. Under Narendra Modi’s government hate crimes have increased, linked above all to "sacred cows".


New Delhi (AsiaNews) – A young Muslim man was tied to a pole, tortured for eight hours, then handed over to the police; despite his condition, he remained in prison custody for four days. Eventually, he was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival.

Catholic and secular activists have condemned this latest episode of violence against religious minorities and demand justice.

For Lenin Raghuvanshi, executive director of the Peoples' Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) in Varanasi, "mob lynching” constitutes “murder of minority” people. In his view, “India is emerging as a corporate fascist state” founded on “a unique alliance of caste-based [groups], minority-phobia, hegemonic masculinity-centred fascism with neo-liberal economic policy.”

The victim was a young man, Tabrez Ansari, 24. On 18 June he and a group of friends left Jamshedpur, East Singhbhum district, and was seized in Dhatkidih, a village in Seraikela-Kharsawan district, for allegedly stealing a motorcycle.

Whilst tied to an electric pole, he was beaten for hours, pictures of his torture taken by mobile phones and posted on social media. During his ordeal, he was forced to chant an ode to the Hindu god Ram (Jai Shri Ram) even though he was a Muslim.

The next day he was taken, unconscious, to a police station, where he was kept without medical treatment or the possibility of meeting relatives.

On 22 June, he was driven to the Tata Main Hospital in Jamshedpur, where he was pronounced dead. The incident has sent shockwaves across Indian society.

Jharkhand police have denied acting negligently. investigations have led to the arrest of 11 people.

"India has witnessed a rise in hate crimes during the last few years,” said Ram Puniyani, president of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism in Mumbai.

The main issue is related to "sacred cows". A report by IndiaSpend on violence between 2010 and 2017, indicates 51% of incidents victimising Muslims involved cattle. About 86 per cent of the 28 people killed in 63 incidents were Muslim.

“As many of 97 per cent of these attacks were reported after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government came to power in May 2014,” Puniyani noted. “His re-election may have emboldened hate mongers. One hopes that they will be brought under control by countering hate against religious minorities.”

John Dayal, general secretary of the All India Christian Council and president of the All India Catholic Union, points out a critical aspect that concerns the government.

Amit Shah, a Hindu extremist and president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), “is now the country’s Home Minister, leading to serious questions about conflict of interest and the impartiality of the police and criminal justice” system.

According to the Catholic activist, "communal demons let loose in the 2019 election campaign have not gone [back] into the bottle. They rage free.” Hate campaigns are proof of that.

For Raghuvanshi, "India should approve a law against mob lynching and start a multi-dimensional and multi-layered programme for the elimination of this organised crime against humanity.” This requires pluralistic education and diversity in schools, colleges, society and politics.