KODERMA/NEW DELHI: Complete terror swept through the small minority population of a village in Jharkhand when a mob gathered and attacked a wedding reception, assaulted the family and the guests, broke down doors and smashed the belongings and the few vehicles parked outside. One person is in hospital with serious head injuries, several more are badly injured with the villagers rushing into their houses and cowering in sheer terror while the police looked on.

Why? On a rumour created by a small group of men who gathered to insist that beef was being served at an onging wedding. The guests told The Citizen that the group gathered near the house of the boy who had just got married, insisted that they were being served beef while holding up a bone in a plastic bag as ‘proof.” Soon a large mob collected.

“We told them we had only been served chicken and took them to the garbage to show the chicken bones but they were not there to listen”, a guest at the wedding said. The mob barged into the house, beat the father mercilessly in what was a near lynching from which he just about escaped with serious injuries, smashed all their belongings, including the bike just bought for the bridegroom.

The guests ran for their lives, to their own homes. “We had to as our wives and children and other relatives were there all alone,” the guests said. One of them describing the “sheer terror” that had engulfed them said, “I took my wife and children and we locked ourselves in one room while they kept banging on the door. We were sure this was the end for us, there was no police, no one to help us for over two hours,” he said.

The wedding party was at a house near the mosque in Jharkhand’s Nawadih village under the Dmochanch police station in Koderma district. A woman in a house near the mosque tried to plead with the crowd that had ransacked the religious place as well, but stones were hurled at her. One large stone hit her little daughter, and terrorised she ran inside and locked herself in.

A barrage of stones and bricks hit the few minority homes in the area. Another house where a wedding was to take place a couple of days later was ransacked and looted. There was no one to check the mob that had free play in terrorising the minority community that has fled since.

As one of them said, “how can we stay, they will kill us. The police is not going to protect us because even after they came, the men would pass by on motorcycles abusing us viciously and threatening to kill us “soon.”

Another added, “they have destroyed our lives, we do not know now what to do.” One older man, feeling that perhaps the worst was over a day after the attack on April 17, decided to go to the market to get some food. His motorcycle had been destroyed so he was walking through the field when he was accosted by a group of youth who threatened to beat him. Another with them persuaded them to let him go and as he told the villagers, he was fortunate to get away. Most of them have left the village, cleansed now of the minority community. Some assailants have been rounded up but details are still awaited.