Human Rights

Mob lynching of Tabrez Ansari sparks nationwide protests

The brutal lynching of a young Muslim Tabrez Ansari has become an issue of national attention after a video of the incident went viral, prompting nearly a dozen arrests, and an investigation into a potential cover-up.

Police arrested 11 people on Monday in connection with the lynching after the victim’s family showed them the video of the incident that was already spreading rapidly online. The disturbing 10-minute-long clip shows 24-year-old Tabrez Ansari being beaten with sticks by at least a dozen people while tied to a pole.

A protestor in Delhi (26 June 2019)

In order to press the govt to put a check on the menace of mob lynching, which is claiming lives of people at regular interval and claimed the life of Tabrez Ansari, civil rights activists called for protest demonstrations in around 50 cities across the country on Wednesday (June 26).

With different hashtags like #JusticeForTabrez and #India AgainstLynchTerror, a campaign is running on social media for the protests.“People are being killed in mob lynching. Govt is not taking them seriously.

Besides eminent members of civil society, Congress party are also tweeting with the hashtag #IndiaAgainstLynchTerror. “It's been 1 month and 14 hate crimes since BJP took to power for their second term. The government should admit that hate crimes have sky rocketed under their rule and must come up with a plan to put an end to such barbarianism.

In Bhopal, Congress workers staged protest against mob lynching Tuesday. Party workers along with state spokesperson, Abbas Hafeez signed a letter with thumb impressions of blood on it. This letter will be sent to the  Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Besides Delhi, protests were expected in Ranchi, Patna, Lucknow, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Aligarh and Muzaffarnagar, India Tomorrow, reported.

The Hindu provided graphic details on how Tabrez was beaten and tortured:

“Tabrez could have been let off with a few slaps. All hell broke loose when he revealed his name. He was tied to an electric pole and beaten up the whole night.

“Later, he was dragged to nearby bushy areas and another round of thrashing started. He was also forced to chant ‘Jai Sriram and Jai Hanuman’,” said Mohammad Mansoor Alam, Tabrez’s uncle, who had gone to meet him at the police station after his rescue.

“Tabrez’s family members got the shock of their life when they met him at the Saraikela police station. “Initially, I was not allowed to enter the police station. Then I heard someone saying ‘Ab tak yeh mara kyon nahin? [why did he not die till now?]’.

“When inquired, I found that it was Papa Mandal, the main accused, who was shouting right inside the police station. I could not hold myself back. I entered the police station forcibly only to find Tabrez having bruises all over his body and blood stains on his face, hands and legs,” said Shehnaz Begum, mother-in-law of 24-year-old Tabrez Ansari.

No doubt this is yet another instance of Hindutva terrorism.

Two other incidents

Embolden by the landslide victory of the Hindu rightist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in recent elections, Hindu extremist groups are attacking Muslims and other minority communities.

Besides the brutal lynching of Tabrez, two other incidents were reported this week where Hindu extremists tried to force Muslims to chant Jai Shri Ram.

Hafeez Sahrukh Haldar, 26-year-old madrasa teacher told India tomorrow that he was beaten up and pushed off a moving train by a group for not chanting “Jai Shri Ram” on the afternoon of June 20 on his travel from Canning in South 24 Parganas district to Hooghly in Bengal.

“I was travelling to Hooghly when a group of people were chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ inside the compartment. They asked me to chant the same. When I refused, they started to beat me, nobody came to my rescue. The incident took place while the train was between Dhakuria and Park Circus stations. They pushed me off the train at Park Circus station. Some locals helped me,” Haldar said. The police said the teacher had escaped with minor injuries.

In another incident on the same day (June 20), a Delhi-based madrasa teacher was deliberately hit by a car in Rohini area when he was returning home from a mosque.

The incident took place last Thursday evening (June 20) around 6:45 PM. Maulana Mohammad Momin said that he was asked to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ by three men aged around 30-35 years. When he refused to do so, they hit him with the car they were travelling in and ran away.

Momin said, “I was returning home from the nearby mosque around 6:45 PM. Three persons met me on the way. They were in a white car. They asked me to say ‘Jai Shri Ram’. I refused to do so moved forward on my way. They hit me with the side of the car and ran away. I fell down on the road and became unconscious. People rushed to help me. They made a call to the police. Then I was rushed to Sanjay Gandhi Hospital where I got medical aid”.

Tabrez Ansari killing 11th hate crime in 2019

The killing of Tabrez Ansari from Jharkhand is not the first hate crime that has occurred in 2019. Data from the website Factchecker.in reveals that this is the 11th case of hate crime this year. So far, 22 people have been injured and four have been killed in mob violence, according to the Logical Indian. . 

297 hate crimes have taken place all over India, since 2009. 98 people have died and 722 people were injured.

Data shows a rise in incidents of mob violence over the last few years. Compared to just six incidents from 2012 to 2014, 121 incidents of mob violence over cattle theft or slaughter have taken place since 2015.

According to the overall data from 2009 to 2019, the victims were Muslims in 59% cases. 28% of the incidents were related to alleged cattle theft or slaughter.

Data also indicates that while 16% of cases took place in the Congress-ruled states, 66% of cases occurred in the BJP-ruled states. 

US report on attacks against minorities by Hindu extremist groups

The brutal lynching of Tabrez Ansari came days after a US report about attacks on Christians, Muslims and other minorities by the extremist Hindu groups.

The US State Department in its annual 2018 International Religious Freedom Report says Mob attacks by violent extremist Hindu groups against the minority communities, particularly Muslims, continued in India in 2018, amid rumors that victims had traded or killed cows for beef and the authorities often protected perpetrators from prosecution.

The US report also said that some senior officials of the ruling BJP made inflammatory speeches against the minority communities.

Mandated by the Congress, the State Department in its voluminous report gives its assessment of the status of religious freedom in almost all the countries and territories of the world.

In the India section, it said that there were reports by nongovernmental organizations that the government sometimes failed to act on mob attacks on religious minorities, marginalized communities and critics of the government.

The report also said that the central and state governments and members of political parties took steps that affected Muslim practices and institutions.

A Modi victory puts 200 million Indian Muslims in danger

In May 2019, The Nation published an article titled: "A Modi Victory Puts India's 200 Million Muslims in Danger." Writer of the article is Ruchira Gupta. She is a visiting professor at New York University and founder of the Indian anti-sex-trafficking organization, Apne Aap Women Worldwide. Ruchira Gupta writes:

"Thursday, India will announce election results that could put the country's 200 million Muslims in danger". Human Rights Watch reports that between May 2015 and December 2018, cow vigilantes lynched at least 44 people-including 36 Muslims-suspected of eating beef or trading in cattle.

In one case in 2016, a group beat to death a Muslim cattle trader and a 12-year-old boy traveling to an animal fair in Jharkhand. Their badly bruised bodies were found hanging from a tree with their hands tied behind them.

Instead of trying to keep Muslims safe, the government announced a national commission to protect cows in February 2019. Police often stalled prosecutions of the attackers, while several BJP politicians publicly justified the attacks. Commentators accuse Modi of normalizing bigotry by refusing to condemn such acts. The Pew Research Center has ranked India the fourth-worst country in the world for religious intolerance-after Syria, Nigeria, and Iraq."

About the growing extremism under Modi, Ruchira Gupta writes:

"One candidate for Parliament in particular illustrates the growing extremism of the BJP. In Bhopal, a city of 1.8 million people, Modi personally endorsed Pragya Singh Thakur, who is out on bail after almost nine years in jail for alleged involvement in a terrorist bombing that killed six Muslims."

Pragya Thakur's main election plank appears to be revenge against Indian Muslims for 400-year-old humiliations. At her campaign launch, she boasted that 27 years ago she helped demolish a 16th-century (Babri) mosque in northern India:

"I climbed atop the structure and broke it, and I feel extremely proud that God gave me this opportunity."

Thakur, like Modi, is a proponent of a far-right militant ideology called Hindutva, which was invented in the 1920s by an all-male vigilante group called the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh  (RSS). Its founders corresponded with Adolf Hitler and met with Benito Mussolini in 1929 to model their party along fascist lines. A member of the group assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in 1948.

On the campaign trail, Thakur said Gandhi's assassin "was a patriot, is a patriot, and will remain a patriot."

By nominating an alleged terrorist as a lawmaker, Modi has made his party's agenda clear. He's shifted his rhetoric from fighting corruption to generating hate.

Thakur defeated her opponent, Digvijaya Singh, a two-term chief minister of Madhya Pradesh state and a senior member of the main opposition Congress party.

Hundreds of Dalits embrace Buddhism saying there is "No Equality in Hinduism"

Not surprisingly, hundreds of Dalits rembraced Buddhism in Karnataka on Tuesday (June 25) after a youth from the community was assaulted.

Members of the Dalit community took out a rally against the attack on youth from the community and embraced Buddhism, stating that “there is no love, compassion and equality in Hinduism”, The New Indian Express reported

The Dalits took a pledge to join Buddhism as Buddhist monks Gjana Sheela and Bodiraksha read out Panchshil of Buddha, considered to be basic code of ethics to be a follower and practitioner of Buddha, at Kebbekatte Shanimahathma temple in Mysuru.

While pledging that they firmly believe in the dharma (religion) of Buddha, they said they “don’t want to remain Hindus where there is no equality, mutual trust and respect”, quoted The New Indian Express.

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: asghazali2011 (@) gmail.com

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