Jharkhand’s Latehar district was on edge on Saturday, after the bodies of two Muslim cattle traders — one of them a teenage boy — were found hanging from a tree in Jhabbar village. There was also sporadic violence over Friday and Saturday, and six policemen were injured while trying to intervene.
An FIR has been registered with the local police in this regard, but it doesn’t mention details of why or how the duo was hanged. However, their hands were tied and their bodies bore injury marks, indicating they were thrashed before being hanged. While some suspect they were killed on account of their profession, there are also theories that it might have been an unrelated case of robbery gone wrong.
According to the Indian Express, the duo has been identified as Muhammad Majloom (35) and Azad Khan (15), residents of Balumath and Newada respectively. Preliminary investigations have revealed that the two were on their way to a cattle market in Chatra district. They had about eight oxen with them, which they intended to sell, police told the newspaper.
“They might have been caught by a group of people in the early hours and beaten and hanged. Their bodies have been sent for post-mortem. No oxen was found on the spot when the police reached there. It’s still to be investigated if this was a business rivalry or a cattle loot or something else,” said Latehar SP Anoop Birthare.
The area had witnessed communal clashes over accusations of beef eating a few months ago. On Friday, after the bodies were discovered, the district was on edge.
Hindustan Times reported that villagers later blocked a road in protest and hurled stones at policemen who came to take the bodies away for post-mortem. Six policemen were subsequently injured. The cops then fired in the air and lathi-charged the protesters. The district administration had called for a meeting of village seniors in the evening to defuse the situation.