'Our Life Has Turned Upside Down, Cannot Even Begin to Tell You': Ansari's Widow After Conviction of 11 Lynchers
Government fulfils no promises, no compensation, no job, no house
NEW DELHI: “Let us see what happens, all we want is to be able to live,” is the quiet response of Maryam Khatun, the widow of Alimuddin Ansari who was brutally beaten to death by a cow-mob in Ramgar, Jharkhand The celebration that the 11 accused in the lynching of Alimuddin Ansari in broad daylight by a mob in Ramgarh, Jharkhand on June 29 last year. As first reported by The Citizen, the lynching took place in broad daylight with Ansari being lynched in public view.
Relief did not register in Maryam Khatun’s voice as she has gone through sheer hell in the past months. Terrified, the family then did not know what had hit them and how to cope with not just the death but the aftermath. The accused were persons they knew, and had seen and as Maryam said to The Citizen, “we used to see them as we have to go from the village to Ramgarh almost every day for groceries.” Her husband was the only earning member of the family, a driver who was killed on allegations of carrying beef. Since then the family, of 3 sons and two daughters have been living on community help, and whatever daily wages they can muster.
“It is very difficult, I can’t even tell you how difficult it has been,” Maryam said. She insisted, however, that the environment was now again of amity adding,”there never has been tension here before, it is just these few bad persons who tried to create a division between the Hindus and Muslims.” And now? “We are all together, everyone is supporting us, there is no tension,” she said.
Apart from the economic difficulties of a family that was poor to begin with, Maryam said “we have learnt to remain alert, and live accordingly.” She said that while the “fear” remained, it had mitigated. As for the arrests, she was cautious, “the process is on let us see what happens. We have full faith in the judiciary.” She was reluctant to say more than this about the conviction, repeating merely that it was too early to respond as the sentence has still be announced.
Of course, the family has not received anything from the state government. They have not been given any compensation, and the promise of a government job for one or two of her sons has also not been realised. The state announced that they would be giving the family a place to stay but as Maryam Khatun said, “they keep making excuses every week, every month, nothing has happened.”
There were efforts to muddy the case as well with the wife of a key witness being killed in an “accident” outside the courts, after she was threatened openly. The Citizen reported this at some lengt: Two and a half months later, just as the court was hearing the case, the wife of a key witness in the case Jalil Ansari was killed and Alimuddin Ansari’s son injured in an “accident” just about a kilometre away from the court room. This was after they said they had received death threats in the court room itself, where they were asked not to depose. The two were on a motorcycle going to the residence of the witness to collect his identity card. According to eyewitnesses to this incident, they were followed and hit from behind with the woman dying on the spot, and Alimuddin Ansari’s son now in hospital with injuries.
Local activists told The Citizen that the family had been receiving threats for all these weeks, more so from July when a few of the suspects named in the FIR on the lynching had been arrested. Local BJP leader Nityanand Mahato and Santosh Singh were arrested initially for the murder, with another accused of the 12 named Chhotu Rana surrendering in the Ramgarh court.
The family at that time was terrified, fearful of even going out of the house. Maryam said that the situation has improved, but the fear remains.
As of now all the 11 accused have been convicted by a lower court, in what is a first cow lynching conviction. The Ramgarh fast-track court judge Om Prakash held all the 11 men guilty of killing Alimuddin alias Asgar Ansari, 42, in a pre-planned mob attack and setting his Maruti van was afire on a road at Bazartand on the morning of June 29, 2017.
The convicts include local BJP leader Nityanand Mahato and Kapil Thakur, a member of the local unit of ABVP.
The court will pronounce sentences in the case on March 20.
Three of the 11 accused – Deepak Mishra, Chhotu Verma and Santosh Singh – were also convicted under Section 120 (B) of the IPC, making it clear that the mob attack was a pre-planned incident. The trial of one of the accused, Chhotu Rana, a minor, was earlier shifted to the local juvenile justice board.
The case was shifted to the fast-track court in September 2017 on the order of Jharkhand High Court.
The prosecution had presented 19 witnesses while the defence presented only one. As many as 59 pieces of documentary evidence and 20 material evidences were presented by the prosecution before the court.
A video CD of the attack prepared by the Ramgarh circle officer and authenticated by Central Forensic Laboratory in Chandigarh was also presented in the court.