Saraikela: The family of Tabrez Ansari, the latest victim of an alleged hate crime in Jharkhand, says that it is the second time that a tragedy of this magnitude has befallen them. Fourteen years ago, Tabrez's father was mysteriously found dead in a jungle near the village.
Tabrez is the most recent in the list of people who have been attacked allegedly for their religion. A group of people beat him up on the suspicion of theft on 17 June. His family alleges that a mob thrashed him and forced him to say "Jai Shri Ram" and "Jai Hanuman" before handing him over to the police the next day. Reportedly, the beating left him unconscious. Four days later, on 22 June, he breathed his last at Saraikela Karsawan civil hospital, where he was being treated under judicial remand. Videos of the beating are being widely circulated.
For the family of Tabrez, who was just 24 years old, his death brings back memories of his father's mysterious death. In 2005, Tabrez was all of 10 and his sister was eight when their father, Maqsur Alam, passed away.
Tabrez's friend Lukman Ansari said that Alam had gone to a forest area with his Hindu friends, and then, there was no news of him for two days. Two days after he disappeared, his body was found in the forest. Lukman said the police had registered a case against four friends of Alam, but six months after the incident, all of them were also found dead in the same forest.
Tabrez's uncle Mohammad Sadar Alam claimed that Maqsur Alam's death was a murder, but the police were not able to make any headway and thus, the case was closed.
Tabrez had lost his mother when he was just three years old, and his sister was one year old. Subsequently, his father Maqsur Alam chose to remarry. Alam married a Hindu woman who converted to Islam.
Tabrez, after his father's death, had to take up the responsibility of being the family's breadwinner at the tender age of ten years. He worked in Pune as a welder.
Lukman recalls, "Very few of us know Tabrez's formal name. We used to call him Sonu. He was a nice person, and he shared a good relationship with his Hindu friends. I used to work with him and stay in the same building in Pune. He had been working at a fabrication workshop as welding labourer. Subsequently, I returned to my village and opened a shop here. It is hard to believe that we lost our friend."
Tabrez had come to his village a few days before Ramzan for his wedding. This tragedy happened barely a month and a half after his marriage. Lukman said that Tabrez was to return to Pune with his wife and had booked a ticket for 24 June.
Tabrez's wife Shaishta Ansari said that the attack took place when he was returning home with two friends from Jamshedpur last Tuesday. She said that a mob attacked him barely five kilometers from their home. Tabrez's uncle Sadar Alam said that the two friends fled when the mob attacked his nephew.
Avinash Kumar, station in-charge of Saraikela police station, said that some villagers from Dhatkidih had filed a complaint accusing Tabrez of theft. He said that Tabrez was duly produced in court, and was provided proper treatment before he was taken there.
Saraikela Kharsawan’s Superintendent of Police (SP) Kartik S said that the police have registered a case of mob lynching, acting on the written complaint of Shaista, and are investigating the case. The official also expressed a suspicion that the video of the incident may have been tampered with. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) has also been formed to look into the case. The police have handed over the body of the deceased to his family.
Tabrez's family alleges that the police ignored a complaint of mob violence on 17 June and reached the spot only the next day, until when the mob kept thrashing him. The family further accused the police of putting pressure on hospitals to fabricate Tabrez's fitness report, certifying him as fit even though he was badly beaten up.
Superintendent of Police Kartik S said that the SIT will investigate the allegations made against police officials.
12 lynched in 4 years in Jharkhand
Several mob lynching incidents have taken place in Jharkhand, which has a BJP-led government, in recent times. According to a report by Jharkhand Janadhikar Morcha, 12 people, including ten Muslims and two tribals, have been killed in such incidents in the state.
Hate Crime Watch, a database of hate crimes across India by FactCheckIndia, reported 14 incidents of hate crime in Jharkhand from 2016 to 2019.
Reacting to the recent incident involving Tabrez Ansari, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said, "This is the pattern with almost all lynchings. First, a Muslim is murdered by cow lovers. Then the most ridiculous excuses begin: a 'suspicion' of beef possession, theft, smuggling and love jihad. So much for sabka vishwas when we can be killed over mere 'suspicions'."
(The author is a Bhopal-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com)
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Updated Date: Jun 25, 2019 14:38:28 IST