06, Nov 2017 | Deborah Grey
In our last story on Victims of Gautankwad, we told you all about the Pehlu Khan lynching that appeared to be a case of premeditated murder. Today we bring you the case of Alimuddin Ansari who was lynched by a mob of nearly 100 people in Ramgarh in Jharkhand on suspicion of transporting beef in his van in June 2017. He not only became one of the most memorable victims of Gautankwad, what made his case truly terrifying was the manner in which witnesses were silenced even as the trial was on in court.
When a hundred men ganged up against one man
On June 29, 2017 just hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned lynching under the guise of cow protection, a 45 year old man was killed by a hundred man strong mob in Jharkhand. Alimuddin Ansari aka Asgar Ali of Mouna village was allegedly carrying 200 kgs of meat in his van when he was intercepted by the mob at Bazartand in Ramgarh district. They dragged him outside his vehicle and beat him with sticks and pieces of meat. The mob also set his car on fire.
A video of the assault, that was allegedly deliberately circulated by the assailants on social media, showed that throughout the assault Ansari did not retaliate or fight back, and yet the mob kept beating him relentlessly. In fact one man even violently snapped Ansari’s head to face the camera and yet Ansari still did not fight back. Perhaps he was hoping that the attackers would see the error in their way of attacking an unarmed and peaceful man. But his non-violence did nothing to stop the brutal assault. Ansari was rescued by the police who arrived on the spot in 30 minutes even as he was still being assaulted before a crowd that cheered the assailants. He was first taken to Sardar Hospital in Ramgarh, but transferred to Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences, Ranchi because of the severity of his injuries. It was at the second hospital that Ansari breathed his last.
How the police responded
While the police reached the spot in about half an hour and rescued Ansari from the clutches of the mob, the statements they subsequently made to the press proved to be terribly problematic. Jharkhand police spokesperson RK Mallick openly and rather irresponsibly speculated that the murder could have been the result of a professional rivalry. “Ali had a criminal record, and was an accused in the kidnapping and murder of a child. He traded in beef and had been getting calls for ransom from his business rivals and local criminals. Still, that does not give anyone the licence to kill him. We will arrest the killers soon,” he was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times.
The Widow’s Wail
However, Ansari’s widow Mariam Khatoon rubbished his claims clarifying that Ansari was not a cattle or beef trader and that he was in fact a coal trader. She also went on to allege that men affiliated with the Bajrang Dal were involved in her husband’s murder. Ansari left behind six children including three daughters. He was the only earning member in the family.
A little over a week after the lynching the police came up with a new story based on their investigation. They found that a Bajrang Dal man was indeed involved in the murder which was planned and executed with precision. The man named Raj Kumar first saw Alimuddin Ansari purchase meat at 7:30am at the Chitarpur market in Ramgarh. He suspected the meat bought was beef and alerted a few of his fellow Bajrang Dal members. He then followed Ansari’s van for a good 15 kilometers, all the while giving real time updates to his accomplices. Ramgarh DSP Virendra Chaudhry confirmed this saying, “The investigation so far indicates the accused were in touch with each other between 7:30 am and 9:30 am on the fateful day. It was a well-planned attack.”
One murder to cover up another?
Eleven people had been arrested in the case including a few members of Bajrang Dal namely Deepak Mishra and Chhotu Verma who are both linked to local cow protection groups. When the case finally went to court, Alimuddin Ansari’s brother Jalil Ansari who was a witness in the case was unable to depose as he did not have valid identity documents. When his wife Julekha and Alimuddin’s son Shazad went back home to get the necessary documents, their car met with an “accident.” Julekha was killed and Shazad sustained injuries when an unidentified man rammed his bike into their bike. Alimuddin’s family and friends suspect that this may not be an ‘accident’.
Trial in the case is still on and Jalil Ansari is yet to testify in the matter.
Feature image by Amir Rizvi