Jharkhand mob lynchings: Eyewitnesses recount horror tales

While police apparently encouraged a mob to attack suspected child kidnappers in one incident in Jharkhand, in another, they apparently watched passively

PTI Photo
PTI Photo

NH Web Desk

While police apparently encouraged a savage mob to attack suspected child kidnappers in one incident in Jharkhand, they stood passively in another where the reinforcement and senior police officers allegedly reached late despite repeated frantic phone calls.

Villagers lynched four suspected child-lifters in Sobhapur village under Rajnagar police station in Saraikela-Kharsawan district on May 18. And three people were beaten to death in Nagadih village under Bagbera police station in East Singhbhum district the next day.

The ‘gun-wielding’ policemen encouraged the mob comprising people armed with rods and stones. They prodded the crowd saying that “they are child kidnappers, beat them”, according to Uttam Verma, whose brothers Vikas Verma and Gautam Verma were lynched along with their friend Gangesh Gupta on Thursday in Nagadih in East Singhbhum district.

Uttam, according to a NDTV report, had gone with his brother Vikas to scope out land for building toilets and had told this to the villagers, who then demanded to see their identifications. According to the report, Uttam produced his, but his younger brother didn't have one. Within moments, the mob descended on him, he was quoted as saying in the report.

“I even asked someone to fetch my mother from our home nearby...so they would see we are decent people. My (other) brother Gautam came with his friend Gangesh and brought grandmother,” Uttam told NDTV, adding, “We kept trying to reason with them for 45 minutes. My mother came, brothers came. It was 2 km out of the area. As we tried to get away, the crowds suddenly came from all sides, blocking us.”

While he helplessly watched his brothers killed, his grandmother too was reportedly thrashed by the mob. The family has refused to accept the state government's offer of ₹2 lakh compensation.

Murtaza Ansari, whose brother-in-law, Naim was beaten to death in a separate incident in Shobhapur, told Dainik Bhaskar: “I made repeated phone calls to the SP and IG. For covering a distance of 25 km, the police took two-and-half hours to reach the spot.”

“People from eighteen adjoining villages had converged at the village ground on May 17 evening to get hold of the rumoured child lifters. Next morning, people started mobbing my house. Most of them were equipped with sharp-edged weapons. They started damaging Naim’s car who had come to my home last night,” he was quoted in the report. Eventually, he informed the police. After a police team reached, the mob started threatening them of dire consequences in case they opened fire.

“A police constable brandished his rifle to scare away the mob. But he was attacked and someone snatched his rifle. Then petrol was sprinkled on a police cop who fled from the spot. I was told by police that SP Saraikela has been informed and thought it won’t take him more than half-an-hour to reach here. But, by that time, some people had started dragging Naim towards the village ground. He was pleading innocence, saying with folded hands that he was not a child kidnapper. People started attacking him with stones and sticks. He was drenched in blood. And a little later he stopped breathing,” Ansari told Dainik Bhaskar.

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday rapped law enforcement agencies in Jharkhand for having failed to perform their duty. Taking suo motu cognizance of a media report on the killings, it directed state DGP DK Pandey to submit a detailed report within four weeks.

The Jharkhand government has suspended the officers in charge of the Bagbera and Rajnagar police stations, under whom seven people were beaten to death by the mob. The state government also constituted a probe panel headed by the Kolhan commissioner and the regional DIG. The probe panel is supposed to submit its report in a month.

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