Seven tribal Christians were beaten, tonsured and forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” by religious fanatics in a village in Simdega district of Jharkhand state, on the unproven allegation of cow slaughter.
The incident happened on September 16, but a police complaint was lodged, the next day. However, the matter became public on September 25, when former Zilla Parishad member and social activist Neel Justin Beck told a local news portal about it.
The superintendent of police Shams Tabrez confirmed the incident. He said that four of the nine accused named in the FIR have been arrested. The FIR also mentions 10 unnamed accused.
Jharkhand had witnessed the lynching of several tribal Christians and Muslims on unsubstantiated charges of religious conversion, cow slaughter or beef possession during the tenure of its previous BJP-led government (2014-19). But this is the first reported communal attack since the JMM-Congress-RJD-Left alliance came to power last December.
As published in The Telegraph Online, Deepak Kullu, 26, a tribal Christian from Bherikudar in Simdega, about 145km southwest of Ranchi, said a group of more than 25 stick and rod-wielding people had entered the village early on September 16 morning. The men were apparently residents of nearby villages.
Alleged cow slaughter
Deepak said: “I saw them beating a villager, Raj Singh Kullu, and hurling caste-based expletives at his wife Jacqueline Kullu. When I sought an explanation, they started mouthing caste-based expletives at me too and accused us of slaughtering cows.”
He said “We continued to plead that no one had killed any cows. But, the mob showed us what seemed to be a fake video of an elderly man from a neighbouring village saying he had seen cows slaughtered in our village.”
Deepak alleged the mob dragged him and six other Christian tribal men from the village to neighbouring Mahato Tola. They slapped and beat them with sticks and forced them to chant “Jai Shri Ram” all the way.
At Mahato Tola, the accused made them to squat under a tree and shaved portions of their heads.
The government had banned cow slaughter in Jharkhand in 2005. And the erstwhile BJP-led government began strictly enforcing since 2017.
“The attackers called the local Simdega police station, accusing us of cow slaughter. The police arrived in a few minutes and took us to the police station,” Deepak said.
“The police searched our homes but could not find any trace of cow meat and released all of us later. The next day, Jacqueline lodged complaints with Simdega police station and the district SC/ST police station.”
No trace of cow slaughter: Police
SP Tabrez said that a case was registered under the SC/ST Act and several Indian Penal Code sections. A special investigation team headed by the sub-divisional officer of police has been conducting raids to arrest the remaining accused.”
Beck identified the seven victims as Raj, Deepak, Emmanuel Tete, Sugad Dang, Sulin Barla, Soshan Dang and Sem Kido.
Rabindra Prasad Singh, officer-in-charge of Simdega police station, said that case has been registered against the nine accused Nayan Keshri, Sonu Singh, Sonu Nayak, Tulsi Sahu, Shrikant Prasad, Deepak Prasad, Aman Keshri, Rajendra Prasad and Nakul Patar.
“We have arrested Sonu Singh, Sonu Nayak, Nayan and Rajendra so far,” he said. However, he said “We searched every house whose occupants were accused of cow slaughter but found nothing conclusive.”
Rabindra said the victims did not suffer serious injuries in the beating, and none of them needed medical attention.