02, Apr 2018 | CJP Team
An independent investigation by journalist Ajit Sahi has brought to light several instances of police negligence and even outright sabotage in connection with investigations into the hanging of Mazloom Ansari (32) and Imtiaz Khan (12) in Latehar, Jharkhand in March 2016. The report titled Hanged by Gaurakshaks, Denied Justice by the State was released in New Delhi on Monday April 2, 2018. Here are the findings of the report.
According to the report Ansari, a livestock trader and Imtiaz, his business partner’s son, were walking 8 oxen to a cattle fair for the purpose of selling them on March 18, 2016. But they were waylaid en route, beaten mercilessly and hanged from a tree in a manner reminiscent of lynchings of Black, Latino and Native American people by White Supremacists.
According to the report there are three indisputable facts:
- At least three people saw the crime being committed
- The eye witnesses knew at least some of the witnesses by face and name
- The assailants had previously threatened to kill Ansari if he did not stop trading in cattle
Eyewitnesses include family members Manowar Ansari (Mazloom’s younger brother) and Azad Khan (Imtiaz’s father) who watched in horror from a distance, hiding behind some bushes. Mohammed Nizamuddin, Ansari and Khan’s business partner was following Mazloom and Imtiaz on a bike but fell behind a bit before the duo was ambushed and abducted.
In his deposition before the court Manowar identified by name five of the eight accused. He recognised the other three but did not know their names. Azad had broken his leg and left on his motorcycle shortly after Mazloom and Imtiaz left on foot with the cattle. He told the court that after sometime he came across the oxen grazing but their was no sign of Mazloom or Imtiaz. He heard his son’s screams and rushed in the direction of his voice. He saw the assailants first assaulting Mazloom and Imtiaz and then hanging them.
Nizamuddin not only corroborated the sequence of events as told by Azad and Manowar, but also said he saw Vinod Prajapati, a local BJP leader standing by the oxen. Prajapati gave a call to his men and said the they should catch Nizamuddin as he was the real trader, upon hearing which Nizamuddin fled on his bike and telephoned Manowar.
Other powerful testimonies came from Imtiaz’s mother Najma Bibi who told the police that her son had given her the names of the eight accused and said they had been threatening him with murder if he did not stop his trade. Mazloom’s widow Saira Bibi also told the police how several men had visited their home a month and a half before the murder and openly threatened her husband. The names she gave matched those who were subsequently arrested. Saira’s father Naimuddin also named the eight accused as people who had previously threatened Mazloom.
The Autopsy Report
The autopsy reports corroborate the fact that the victims had been mercilessly beaten with “long, hard, rod like blunt” weapons. The cause of death was given as “asphyxia caused by hanging.” The ligature marks on their necks were said to be caused by a “rope or rope like” thing.
How the Police Sabotaged the Case
- The crime took place between 3am and 6am, yet the FIR was lodged 17 hours later. Interestingly, the autopsies were conducted even before the FIR was registered.
- The FIR says police first became aware of the crime through Nizamuddin at 11am, but oddly enough they had recorded his statement at 9:30am. Meanwhile Manowar maintains the that police arrived on the crime scene at 7am and although he told them everything, they did not make any notes.
- BJP leader Vinod Prajapati was named in the FIR, but even after two years he has neither been arrested nor questioned. Police did not pursue the matter saying there was no evidence against him
- The other accused also confessed to their crimes before the police, however, no effort was made to record these confessions in the presence of a magistrate, thereby rendering them useless.
- The prosecution failed to build a strong case allowing the accused to get bail in a murder case! Even more interestingly no effort has been made to appeal against the bail granted to the accused.
- Finally, police did not book the accused under several stringent charges that are applicable in this case such as Sect 120 (B) of the CrPC for Criminal Conspiracy, Sec 362 (Abduction), Sec 153 (A) for Promoting Enmity on Religious Grounds and Sec 396 for Committing Dacoity with Murder, among others.
The entire report may be read here:
The report is endorsed by:
Alliance for Justice and Accountability, New York • Citizens for Justice and Peace, Mumbai • Dalit American Coalition, New York • Indian American Muslim Council, Washington D.C. • Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association, New Delhi • National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements, New Delhi • Rihaee Manch, Lucknow • South Asia Solidarity Group, London • South Asian Solidarity Initiative, New York • The Quill Foundation, New Delhi • United Against Hate, New Delhi