Justice Bypasses Pressure and Threats in the Latehar Lynching
Interview with the advocate and victims mother
NEW DELHI: After two long years, Latehar district court in Jharkhand has held eight accused guilty of the murder of Majlum Ansari (32) and Imtiaz Khan (15). The two were beaten to death and hung from a tree in Jhabar village, Latehar district of Jharkhand by a ‘Gau Rakshak Samiti’ mob.
The court of First Class Judicial Magistrate Rishikesh Kumar has sentenced them to life imprisonment and also imposed a fine of Rs.25, 000 each.
It has been a struggle for the families of the victims, pressure, threats, including firing on them by local goons. The Citizen spoke to Advocate Md. Abdul Salam, lawyer of the victims. He confirmed, “Our journey has been full of troubles, since 2016. We were subjected to violence and were being pressurised. Eye witnesses of the lynching were prone to violence and had to live their lives in fears for more than 2 years. We had to protect them and hide them to prevent them from being shot. There were incidents where they were openly fired upon by the local goons.”
As he pointed out, “Informants and witnesses in the case are very poor. They were being pressurised to change their statements. But, they stood strong. Finally, justice has been delivered. Honourable court’s order is welcome.”
Salam also noted that, “The accused were provided with financial support. They had support of the big names and local administration.”
Imtiaz Khan’s mother Nazma Khan told The Citizen, “The accused got what they deserved, but this won’t bring back my child.”
In March 2016, Majlum Ansari, a cattle trader and Imtiaz Khan were found hanging from a tree in Jhabar village on March 17, 2016. They were reportedly taking their cattle to a village fair for sale when they were attacked. The police had said that they were beaten to death and then were hanged from the tree.
As reported in the media, in 2016, just before the killings, Imtiaz's father, Azad Khan, bought eight oxen that he planned to sell in the neighbouring district of Hazaribagh. As Khan had injured his leg in a motor accident, he asked his 12-year-old son to accompany Majlum Ansari in transporting the oxen.
As per the lawyer of the victims and media reports, one of the accused, Arun Sao, was active in cow vigilantism and had frequently accosted cattle traders in the past.