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Jharkhand man lynched, set on fire by mob for cutting religiously-associated tree


Simdega: A 32-year-old man was on Tuesday stoned to death, and his body was set on fire allegedly by a group of people at a village in Jharkhand's Simdega district for allegedly hurting religious sentiments by cutting a tree.

The victim, Sanju Pradhan, was lynched barely 100 metres from his home near the Besrajara Bazar area after a mob called him out and stoned him to death. They then gathered a pile of wood and set fire to his body, Kolebira police station in-charge Rameshwar Bhagat said.

Pradhan's charred body was later taken away by the police.

According to police, around 100 to 150 people lynched the victim to death as he had hurt the religious sentiments by cutting and selling parts of a particular tree.

"This tree has religious importance for the Munda community and they are very sentimental about it. The deceased had cut these trees in October 2021. This had hurt the sentiments. Today a large number of people held a meeting and decided to beat him which lead to the victim's death," said Simdega police.

Chief Minister Hemant Soren in a tweet asked Deputy Commissioner, Simdega: "Please investigate the matter and inform after taking legal action."

The incident occurred barely a fortnight after the Jharkhand Assembly passed the Prevention of Mob Violence and Mob Lynching Bill, 2021, which aims at providing effective protection of constitutional rights and the prevention of mob violence in the state.

Superintendent of Police, Simdega, Shams Tabrez rushed to the spot with his team and is camping there. Sub Divisional Police Officer, Simdega, David A Dodroy said the matter relates to mob lynching and the police will take appropriate action.

Hundreds of villagers who gathered at the spot insisted that the man was involved in the illegal felling of trees for stealing and smuggling wood, which was against the traditional tribal system.

Village head Suban Budh, who claimed to be an eye eyewitness of the lynching, said Pradhan was involved in illegal felling of trees, and the Forest Department was informed about it. But no action was taken, Budh added.

Pradhan's denial of his involvement in the felling of trees had infuriated the people who had called him out to grill him about it, the village head said. The mob then stoned him to death and set his body on fire, the police said.

Eyewitnesses said Pradhan's wife tried to stop the villagers from taking drastic action but her husband was lynched before her eyes.

Police teams from Kolebira, Thethaitangar, and Bano were prevented to reach the spot and the locals initially refused to hand over Pradhan's body to the law enforcers.

Fire tenders rushed to the spot and doused the pyre and the police then took away the charred body after much persuasion. Pradhan was originally a resident of Chapridipa village under Bambalkera Panchayat of the district.

The Prevention of Mob Violence and Mob Lynching Bill, 2021, envisages imprisonment for those pronounced guilty of mob violence and lynching for periods ranging from three years to a life term, besides imposition of fine and attachment of property.

Jharkhand became the third state in the country after West Bengal and Rajasthan to pass such legislation.

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