By Muslim Mirror
Authorities arrested four persons after a mob of Hindutva extremists allegedly beat seven tribal Christians, partially tonsured and forced them to chant “Jai Shri Ram” in a Jharkhand village on the unsubstantiated allegation that they had slaughtered a cow, The Telegraph reported on 26 September.
The incident took place on 16 September but it came to light only after a local newspaper reported it on 25 September.
Police confirmed the incident. Shams Tabrez, the superintendent of police in Simdega district where the attack took place, said four of the nine accused named in the FIR had been arrested and the rest would be picked up soon. The FIR also mentions 10 unnamed accused.
Jharkhand had witnessed religiously motivated attacks by Hindutva goons on Muslims and tribal communities in the previous BJP-led government (2014-19). The Hindu nationalist BJP party has purportedly not been able to stop such attack and in some cases its politicians have been seen encouraging the aggressors. In July 2018, federal minister Jayant Sinha had garlanded eight people convicted in a lynching case.
This is the first reported communal incident since JMM-Congress-RJD-Left alliance came to power last December.
Deepak Kullu, 26, a tribal Christian from Bherikudar in Simdega, about 145km southwest of Ranchi, told The Telegraph a group of more than 25 stick and rod-wielding people had entered the village early on September 16 morning. The men were apparently residents of nearby villages.
Deepak said: “I saw them beating a villager, Raj Singh Kullu, and hurling caste-based expletives at his wife Jacqueline Kullu. When I sought an explanation, they started mouthing caste-based expletives at me too and accused us of slaughtering cows.”
“Raj continued to plead that no one had killed any cows. But the mob showed us what seemed a fake video of an elderly man from a neighbouring village saying he had seen cows being slaughtered in our village.”
Deepak alleged the mob dragged him and six other Christian tribal men from the village to neighbouring Mahato Tola, about half a kilometre away, all the while slapping and beating them with sticks and forcing them to chant “Jai Shri Ram”.
At Mahato Tola, they were made to squat under a tree and had portions of their heads shaved by the mob.
Cow slaughter was banned in Jharkhand by a 2005 law, which the state’s erstwhile BJP-led government began strictly enforcing since 2017.
“The attackers called the local Simdega police station, accusing us of cow slaughter. The police arrived in a few minutes and took us to the police station,” Deepak said.
“The police searched our homes but could not find any trace of cow slaughter and released all of us later in the day. The next day, Jacqueline lodged complaints with Simdega police station and the district SC/ST police station.”
Police officer Tabrez said: “A case has been registered under the SC/ST Act and several Indian Penal Code sections. A special investigation team led by the sub-divisional police officer is conducting raids to arrest the remaining accused.”