Jharkhand: Man beaten to death, set on fire for felling trees, weeks after state passed anti-lynching bill

Following a series of mob lynching cases in Jharkhand, the state passed the Prevention of Mob Violence and Mob Lynching Bill, 2021 on 21 December to put an end to the vigilante justice system

FP Staff January 05, 2022 13:39:08 IST
Jharkhand: Man beaten to death, set on fire for felling trees, weeks after state passed anti-lynching bill

Jharkhand is the third state after Rajasthan and West Bengal to pass a law against lynching. AFP

Only two weeks since the Jharkhand Assembly passed the Prevention of Mob Violence and Mob Lynching Bill, 2021, a 32-year-old man was on Tuesday stoned to death, and his body set on fire allegedly by a group of people in Simdega district on the suspicion that he felled trees to steal wood.

The incident

The victim, Sanju Pradhan, was lynched barely 100 metres from his home near Besrajara Bazar area after a mob, at least 100 to 150, according to ANI, called him out and stoned him to death.

They then gathered a pile of wood and set fire to his body, Kolebira police station in-charge Rameshwar Bhagat said.
Pradhan's charred body was later taken away by the police.

Superintendent of Police, Simdega, Shams Tabrez rushed to the spot with his team and is camping there.

Hundreds of villagers who gathered at the spot insisted that the man was involved in the illegal felling of trees for stealing and smuggling wood, which was against the traditional tribal system.

Village head Suban Budh, who claimed to be an eyewitness, said Pradhan was involved in illegal felling of trees, and the forest department was informed about it. But no action was taken, Budh added.

Pradhan's denial of his involvement in the felling of trees had infuriated the people who had called him out to grill him about it, the village head said.

But the mob then stoned him to death and set his body on fire, the police said.

Eyewitnesses said Pradhan's wife tried to stop the villagers from taking the drastic action but her husband was lynched before her eyes.

Police teams from Kolebira, Thethaitangar, and Bano were prevented to reach the spot and the locals initially refused to hand over Pradhan's body to the law enforcers.

Fire tenders rushed to the spot and doused the pyre and the police then took away the charred body after much persuasion.

Festering problem

According to an Indian Express report, Bhagat said the villagers had earlier objected to Pradhan cutting trees in the area. “They did not want the tree felling to continue so a meeting was held with the district’s forest department in July last year. A gram sabha was held and it was decided that Pradhan won’t cut trees in the area as it was a important place for them,” he said.

Pradhan, however, again cut trees there recently, which angered the villagers. “A meeting was called again, but Pradhan did not turn up,” Bhagat said. “An angry mob of villagers brought him to Besrajara area and beat him to death."

These trees have religious importance for the Munda community and they are very sentimental about it,  said Simdega police.

Chief Minister Hemant Soren reacts

Chief Minister Hemant Soren in a tweet in Hindi asked deputy commissioner of Simdega to investigate the matter and inform him after taking legal action:

Mob Lynching in Jharkhand

The Prevention of Mob Violence and Mob Lynching Bill, 2021 was passed in the Assembly following the 2019 killing of a young Muslim man, Tabrez Ansari.

In a video, which went viral and sparked nationwide outrage, the 24-year-old was shown tied to an electric pole in the village Dhatkidih, near Kadamdih. He was beaten up for the next eight hours and forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman".

Tabrez was then arrested for suspected theft, and taken to a doctor at a primary healthcare centre. The doctor administered some first-aid and discharged Tabrez. On 22 June, Tabrez died.

There have also been innumerable incidents of mob lynching of those suspected of practising witchcraft, consumption and trading in beef and child theft among other reasons.

In 2019, four people in their 60s, including two women, were killed by a mob for alleged “witchcraft” at Siskari in Gumla district.

According to a report by The Hindu, "29 persons belonging to tribal, tribal Christian and Muslim communities have either been lynched or beaten up by mob on suspicion of cow slaughter, sale and consumption of beef and religious hatred in Jharkhand between the year 2016 and 2020. At least 10 of them have faced mob violence under current JMM-Congress government rule", according to Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha.

Even state parliamentary affairs minister Alamgir Alam, who tabled the bill in the House, had said without specifying the dates, 'that about 53 incidents of mob lynching took place in Jharkhand out of which 33 had died'.

Interestingly, the incident comes only a day after a Supreme Court bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh on Tuesday said, "We can’t permit these things to go on. We are very sure about it. We can’t permit lynching at all." The remark was made while the bench was hearing the case of a Bajrang Dal leader who had allegedly led a mob that killed a police officer in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr district in December 2018.

With inputs from agencies

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