Jharkhand Adivasi lynching: It was pre-planned and targeted to attack Christians to divide Adivasis

Villagers claim that Bajrang Dal members were behind the attack and political leaders say it is an attempt to divide Adivasis before Jharkhand elections

Jharkhand Adivasi lynching: It was pre-planned and targeted to attack Christians to divide  Adivasis

Ashlin Mathew

Fagu Kachchap, who was beaten up on Sunday on the suspicion of cow slaughter, has said that he had no clue why he was assaulted. On Sunday, a tribal man Kalantus Barla, who is differently abled, was lynched to death in Suari village in Khunti district. Two others Kachchap and Philip Horo were severely injured.

“I went to work on my fields in the morning at 8 am and a mob came rushing into fields and beat me up. My wife was also there. Thankfully, she was not attacked. I have no clue why I was attacked. I am just a poor farmer,” said Fagu Kachchap to a team, which went to meet him at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi. Fagu was saved because a village chowkidar and the police came soon enough and rushed him to the hospital.

Kachchap, who was visibly weak, has several broken bones and could barely speak. He kept insisting he had no idea why he was attacked. His wife who was in the hospital with him did not speak much.

According to news reports, Kalantus Barla, Philip Horo and Faagu Kachchap were attacked under the suspicion of having slaughtered a cow. But, the DIG (Chhotanagpur Range) Homkar Amol Venukant has stated that there was no clarity on the issue. He said investigations were on and that no one was arrested.

However, the villagers have stated that Bajrang Dal members were behind the attack. The women in the village said that Barla had come to his sister’s house in the village to attend the annual puja.

“I had gone to visit the family of Kachchap and they have small children. They have land and cattle for agricultural purposes. He was in the field in the morning to take care of his field when the mob attacked. It was an attack that happened in broad daylight and yet no arrests have been made,” said Brinda Karat, a CPI(M) Politburo member.

“From what I gather, this lynching on Sunday was completely pre-planned and targeted to attack Christians to divide the Adivasis just before the state elections. This happened in an area in Khunti where the Adivasis, both Sarnas and Christians, have been united in their struggle to protect the rights of the gram sabhas. They stood united when the Jharkhand government tried to amend the Chota Nagpur Tenancy Act. There is no doubt it was a motivated attack. Unfortunately, Jharkhand has become the capital of lynching in the country. In the last five years, Jharkhand has seen the highest number of lynching by criminal vigilante groups and Sangh Parivar cohorts,” added Karat.

She added that RSS has organised a demonstration in the area to prevent the arrest and investigation of into this case of lynching. “Such incidents are on the rise in Jharkhand because these Sangh Parivar activists have political patronage. They are doing it with the knowledge of everyone and they know they will not get into trouble,” explained Karat.

There has been a rise in the attacks on Adivasis, both Christian and Sarna by murderous mobs on the pretext of sow slaughter. Consumption of meat of dead cattle is common among several Adivasi communities.

In September alone there were three instances of lynching in Jharkhand. In June, 24-year-old Tabrez Ansari from Saraikela-Kharasawan died after he was beaten with rods after being tied to a pole for hours on suspicion of theft.

In April, a Christian Adivasi Prakash Lakra was killed by a mob after he along with other villagers, were allegedly “carving a dead ox” in Jhurmo village of Gumla district. Three others Peter Kerketta (50), Belarius Tirkey (60) and Janerius Minj (35) had suffered injuries. Later, the police booked the injured under the Jharkhand Bovine Animal Prohibition of Slaughter Act despite being informed that the animal was already dead before they had begun to carve it

However, a fact-finding team found that the police had tried to coax the doctor at the local community health centre to make a false entry saying Lakra was alive at the time of being admitted.

In the last three years, at least 21 people have died in mob violence across the state. The lynchings have stemmed from accusations of animal slaughter, theft and child lifting rumours among others. In addition, more than 90 people have been killed by mobs on suspicion of practising witchcraft in Jharkhand since January 2017.

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