The verdict of a fast-track court in Ramgarh, awarding life imprisonment to eleven Sangh Parivar workers convicted of lynching Alimuddin Ansari, a meat trader in Ramgarh, Jharkhand on 29 June 2017 on suspicion of carrying beef, elates those who believe in democracy.
It is the first time the accused have been convicted in a case related to the spate of murders and violence that took place across the country in the name of cow protection, since Narendra Modi came to power. This is what makes the Alimuddin Ansari case significant. The convicts belong to Sangh Parivar outfits such as the BJP, ABVP and Bajrang Dal. Since the 12th accused is a minor, the court has not reached a decision in his case. BJP district media in-charge Nityanand Mahto was one among the convicted persons. The ruling of the fast-track court in Ramgarh wipes out the usual claims of the BJP and the RSS that they do not have a role in the mob lynchings happening in the name of cow protection.
The mob lynchings that have been taking place for quite a long time portrays the extreme insecurity faced by the Muslims in north India. A middle-aged man, Mohammad Akhlaq was beaten to death by the Sangh Parivar goons in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh following rumours of storing and consuming cow meat at his home. After his tragic death, the average north Indian middle class was debating whether it was actually beef or not which was stored in Akhlaq’s fridge. That is, the people had reached a state of mind where they believed that if he had stored beef, then he should be surely lynched. Such a mindset has been shaped as a result of hate campaigns been carried out by the Hindutwa forces for years; a precarious situation where people could be lynched anywhere, be in the streets, trains or in shops, any time. It happened in Alwar, Rajasthan and on Ballabhgarh in Haryana. Junaid, a 16-year old was stabbed to death in Haryana while he was returning home after Eid shopping. The Hindutwa hardliners lynched him on train in front of other passengers, shouting ‘beef-eater’. It is the Haryana government itself that makes all the arrangements for protecting the accused in this case.
For a community living in insecurity, it is hard to get justice in a set-up like ours. They have to conduct the case, produce witnesses, provide security to witnesses who should be able to come to appear in court and depose without fear, they need money for all this; the Muslims of north India in general are not a community with the resources to go through such ordeal. And in a state like Jharkhand, they are in worse backward conditions. The wife of Alimuddin Ansari and relatives should be saluted by all human rights workers, for having persistently pursued the case in such circumstances and having won it in such a state. The same kudos should also go to all those individuals and organizations who stood with them in the front and behind. For, this is not a case related to one Alimuddin, but instead it is a legal intervention that injects morale and fighting spirit into a section of people gripped by trepidation. This should also give them the inspiration to make legal intervention more precisely. The verdict provides a message that there is still room for making resistance in legal channels against Hindutva's atrocities. That being the case, what the human rights organizations should do is to do more homework and planning in the path.