No Financial Aid, No Security — Families Of Lynching Victims Live In Fear And Abject Poverty, Karwan-e-Mohabbat Goes To Offer Solidarity
“The administration has to ensure that adequate reparation and protection from fear and intimidation are provided to the families, and justice is assured,” said activist Harsh Mander.
A team of journalists, activists and lawyers met the families of lynching victims in Jharkhand, as a part of a civil society initiative, Karwan-e-Mohabbat. They observed that the family members are living in constant fear, have lost hope for justice and that government authorities have not provided them any financial support yet.
“A mother described every single wound that she saw on her lynched son’s body. It was horrifying to hear her describe the incident in which her son was arbitrarily targeted, tortured and allowed to die in police custody without any medical intervention,” author Natasha Badhwar, told News Central24x7.com after meeting Minhaj Ansari’s parents in Dighari village, Jamtara.
In October 2016, 22-year-old Minhaj, the sole breadwinner of his family, became the victim of a brutal custodial killing after he was alleged to have shared a photo of meat on whatsapp. Minhaj’s family, like families of other victims, is struggling for their livelihood, as well as to make sense of the tragedy that has befallen them.
On August 19, 2017 Ramesh Minj was lynched because of rumours of cow slaughter. He was taken into custody, alive but severely wounded. He succumbed to his injuries three days later in prison.The Karwan team went to Tengari village in Garhwa district to meet Ramesh’s widow, Anita Minj. “The wife saw him bleeding and being neglected by the police while he was in custody. She pleaded with them to allow her to take him to the hospital, but they didn’t allow it. Later, when the police themselves took him to the hospital, doctors gave him a fitness certificate and sent him back to police custody. He died due to state negligence,” Badhwar said. Till now, Anita has not received any assistance, despite many assurances given when a large public agitation took place after Minhaj’s body was brought back to the village.
The story of Majloom Ansari is also similar. In March 2016, he was lynched and hung from a tree by ‘cow-vigilantes’ in Latehar district. Majloom’s widow has not received any assistance either. The Karwan team described the condition of the family as one of “grave destitution, with no able-bodied male member left to earn a livelihood.” 12-year-old Imtiaz, who was was also killed with Majloom, has also left behind a family living in fear amidst intimidation and struggling to make ends meet. “For many of them, the threats linger. When they visit the court, they have to meet the same people who lynched their family members,” Badhwar said.
Alimuddin Ansari’s widow, Mariam Khatoon, is also still waiting for her widow’s pension and compensation from the state. The Karwan team met the family in Ramgarh district. Alimuddinwas lynched on June 29, 2017, on suspicion of transporting beef. The accused persons were identified and arrested after a video of the lynching went viral on social media. Out of the 12 accused, 11 were sentenced to life in prison in September last year. However, the Jharkhand High Court has recently suspended the sentence for eight of them, including that of accused BJP leader Nityanand Mahto. The wounds of his widow haven’t healed. They were worsened after Union Minister Jayant Sinha went ahead and garlanded the convicted gaurakshaks when they were released on bail.
“All the families we met are facing grave economic distress, as well as living with fear, and still awaiting justice,” said activist Harsh Mander. “The administration has to ensure that adequate reparation and protection from fear and intimidation are provided to the families, and justice is assured,” he added.
Besides assisting the families in getting compensation, the Karwan team will also create a socio-legal team in Jharkhand. They will connect social workers and lawyers with the bereaved families, in an effort to improve their living conditions and help them pursue their fight for justice.