PATNA: All the 11 people convicted of lynching a Muslim trader in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh in June last year were on Wednesday handed life imprisonment by a fast-track court in what is the first instance of conviction and sentencing in a case of cow vigilantism.
The 11 convicts included BJP’s district media cell in-charge Nityanand Mahto, Ramgarh cow protection committee head Chhotu Verma and local ABVP leader Kapil Thakur. Additional Judge-II Om Prakash, who had held all the eleven accused guilty on March 16, pronounced the sentences in a packed courtroom amid tight security. The court also directed that adequate compensation be provided to the family of the victim, Alimuddin alias Asgar Ansari.
Ansari, 42, was brutally killed in a pre-planned attack by the convicts on a road at Bazartand on the morning of June 29, 2017. Ansari was attacked for allegedly carrying beef in his Maruti van, which was also set afire by the convicts. Video clips of the attack showed Ansari being beaten up mercilessly with pieces of meat while his car stood aflame.
The fast-track court, which was formed under the instruction of Jharkhand High Court, convicted three of the 11 accused – Deepak Mishra, Chhotu Verma and Santosh Singh – under Section 120 (B) of the IPC, making it clear that the mob attack was a pre-planned incident.
The 12th accused, Chhotu Rana, being a minor, the court did not announce any decision on him as his case was earlier shifted to the local juvenile justice board. Additional Public Prosecutor Sushil Kumar Shukla said he has filed a petition seeking that Rana, aged between 16 and 18, be treated and tried as an adult.
“I lost my husband in the most shocking manner. The killers conspired to kill him. They deserved the punishment,” said Ansari’s widow Mariam Khatun after the sentencing. Soon after Ansari’s murder, she had told police that people linked to the local BJP and Bajrang Dal were involved in the crime.
The lynching had taken place on a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Ahmedabad that killing people in the name of 'Gau Bhakti (cow worship)' was unacceptable and that nobody has the right to take the law into their own hands.