Eleven men have been arrested and two police officers suspended over the shocking mob attack on a 24-year-old man in Jharkhand last week. Tabrez Ansari, accused of stealing a motorcycle, was tied to a pole, brutally beaten and forced to chant "Jai Shri Ram" and "Jai Hanuman". He was handed over to the authorities only after he fell unconscious and died four days later in police custody.
The special investigation team (SIT) in charge of the inquiry has been asked to submit its report to the Home Secretary and the Chief Secretary by Wednesday.
Ansari and a group of his friends were going home, traveling from Jamshedpur to Saraikela-Kharsawan's Karsova, when they were attacked barely five kilometres from home, a relative said.
"He was mercilessly beaten as he was Muslim. I don't have anybody, no in-laws. My husband was my only support. I want justice," Shahista Parveen, Ansari's wife said.
His family has alleged that despite appeals the police did not arrange for proper treatment of Ansari, that they were not allowed to meet him, and that he died long before he was taken to a hospital. They have demanded action against all concerned, including the police and the doctors, who have yet to be questioned.
"We are looking into all angles. His family members mentioned some unidentified miscreants in their complaint. Based on that, we have already arrested eleven people, including a man named Papu Mandal," Seraikela-Kharsawan Superintendent of Police Karthik S said.
The opposition party in the state - the Congress - has demanded Rs 25 lakh compensation and a government job for his wife.
Faced with mounting anger from across the country, the police admitted to lapses in procedure and formed a SIT. In addition, two officers - Chandramohan Oraon and Bipin Bihari - have been suspended for "not reporting the seriousness of the issue to the higher authorities" and for their failure to "register a case of lynching on the very same day", a government statement said.
Hyderabad politician Asaduddin Owaisi was quoted by news agency ANI as criticising the BJP and the RSS for having "successfully created a mindset where Muslims are seen as terrorists, anti-nationals & cow slaughters".
AIMIM MP, A. Owaisi on Jharkhand mob lynching incident : Incidents of mob lynching aren't going to stop because BJP & RSS have increased sense of hatred against Muslims. They've successfully created a mindset where Muslims are seen as terrorists, anti-nationals & cow slaughters. pic.twitter.com/2klGXdKEda— ANI (@ANI) June 24, 2019
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti also expressed concern, hitting out at "NDA 2.0's New India".
Meanwhile, a Jharkhand minister said it was wrong to politicise mob killings. The trend these days, CP Singh said, was to "associate such incidents with the BJP, RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal. It is a time of 'cut and paste' - who fits what words where is difficult to say".
Data from fact-checking website FactChecker.in shows the attack on Tabrez Ansari was the eleventh incident of hate crime this year. In 59 per cent of the cases, the victims have been Muslims and 28 per cent of the incidents have been over cow-related issues.
With input from PTI