Wednesday, 19 January, 2022
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He had more Hindu friends than Muslim: Wife of Jharkhand beef-lynching victim

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A Jharkhand court has convicted 11 of the 12 accused for the murder of Alimuddin; quantum of punishment will be announced Wednesday.

Ramgarh, Jharkhand: Four days after a fast-track court in Ramgarh, Jharkhand, convicted 11 of the 12 accused in the June 2017 lynching case of Alimuddin Ansari, his wife Mariam Khatoon is worried again.

“Nobody has threatened us so far, but what will happen on 21 March?” she said ahead of the court’s order on the quantum of punishment which is due on Wednesday.

“Something could go wrong,” she said fearing mischief by Right-wing organisations.

With six children, no earning member in the family, and the haunting memory of her 45-year-old husband’s murder, justice can only do so much for Khatoon.

Alimuddin was killed by cow vigilantes on the suspicion of carrying beef in his vehicle.

Financial woes

Family photo of Alimuddin | Sanya Dhingra

“Whatever the court does is acceptable to me, I know both my god and the courts will do justice,” she said even as she counted the “hollow” promises that have come the family’s way in the aftermath of Alimuddin’s death.

“The government promised my eldest son a job, but now they say he needs to be a Class X pass,” she said sitting in her dilapidated house.

“The government gives illiterate widows jobs when their husbands die, but for my son, they have this criterion,” she argued with her 22-year-old son Shahzad Ansari sitting next to her.

Shahzad, who was doing a driving course close to Ramgarh before his father died, does not want to leave this place now. “What if the government calls me for a job? I should be here,” he said, adding he is now taking his Class X exams so that he cannot be refused a government job.

“When my husband was alive, we made him stop studying after Class VIII so he could give his father a hand. Who knew he’ll have to take his (Class) X exams in these circumstances?”

While the government gave the family Rs 2 lakh as compensation, that was just not enough. “We spent up all that money just on fighting the case,” she said.

“I have to pay tuition fees for my children, but I have nothing to give.”

Even when Ansari was alive, the family’s financial woes did bite them, she said. “But we were happy…I know we could never become big people, but we were still happy.”

No communal tension

Alimuddins house
Alimuddin’s house | Sanya Dhingra

Asked if there was any communal tension lurking in Ramgarh, Khatoon refused. “We won’t even know who is a Hindu, who is a Muslim.”

“He (Alimuddin) had more Hindu friends than Muslim ones everywhere…He would in fact even say hello to Chhotu Verma and Chhotu Rana every now and then,” she said, as she goes through a bunch of gory photographs of the attack.

While Verma is among the 11 convicted for Alimuddin’s murder, another accused Rana is a juvenile. The prosecution lawyer has appealed to the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) that the boy be treated as an adult in this case.

While Alimuddin’s murder is among the string of attacks on Muslims in the name of cow protection — of the 28 who were killed in India between 2010 and 2017 in such attacks, 24 were Muslims — the family never saw this coming, said Shahzad.

‘No leader from BJP ever came to see us’

A file image of the spot where lynching happened
A file image of the spot where the lynching happened

Shahzad, one of whose younger brothers is studying in a madrassa nearby, said while politicians from across the board came and met us, not a single leader from the BJP ever showed up in the past nine months.

Muslim parties have come and offered help, and promised helping them out financially for the marriage of the family’s two daughters. But Khatoon said, “Only when they give us can I say something.”

Pappu Banerjee, BJP district president, however, insists he has been in touch with Khatoon. Yet, he openly disagrees with the court’s verdict. “This is an inaccurate verdict. All the people are innocent…but it’s not the ultimate court, we will challenge this verdict in all higher courts.”

Nityanand Mahto, 47, the BJP media in-charge in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh district, is among the 11 convicted.

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