I had always felt a sense of safety about the fact that my state, Jharkhand, was tremor-proof – a seismically and communally a safe-zone. I have always felt that Jharkhand, with its diffused rural settlements, had a spontaneous brotherhood, progressive and secular ideals, and eclectic flavour. The green, pacifist cornucopia of Jharkhand never received due media attention, but the scarcity of crime news was always a welcome deficiency.
However, off late, since the onset of the dual BJP-government to be precise, the Union-state conjugation has led to a consistent spree of hate-crimes in the state, fostering a mutual distrust. To make matters worse, the media neglect, combined with the resigned assumption that a sparse, Adivasi-origin, industrial state can’t be affected with communal tension, has led to this problem becoming dangerous.
Moreover, the insincere, fabricated attempts to win back the affections of the historically exploited and marginalised Adivasis and Dalits by the so-called “grassroot” Hindutva organisations has created a mood of alienation in a naturally pluralist, harmoniously coexisting society. There has been an attempt to override the communities’ distinctive nuances, identities and practices, particularly the salient patronisation of Sarna faith into Hinduism.
A string of such incidents includes the brutal assault on 25-year old Sakib Ansari in August 2017, surprisingly, in the quaint, utmost ordered town of Bokaro. Even the urbane sensibilities and reputed liberal-ethic of my hometown couldn’t withstand the resonance of the BJP at all levels: MP, MLA, CM and PM.
Today, the city is prone to rumour-mongering that is disrupting a harmony hard built over decades. The transition into polarisation was enacted during the past four years. Reportedly, when police rescued Ansari from the mob, comprising of around 50 men, he'd already been rendered unconscious. Doctors said Ansari suffered multiple grievous injuries on his body.
Under the BJP regime, several, particularly impoverished, infringed Muslims and Dalits, have been lynched over charges ranging from alleged ‘love jihad’, discovery in objectionable conditions with women, bovine-smuggling and child-lifting. Most cases were found to be incidents of framing or scapegoating, so the question to be asked is if the charges were for personal or communal vendetta.
The fact that the assault on Ansari took place at Pragya Kendra, a government-run dispensing centre, makes the administrative neglect and law-and-order’s indifference even more shocking.
In many such incidents, authorities have claimed inability to establish the identity of suspects or substantiate proof. However, eyewitnesses and the victim’s families have spoken of gross passiveness, indifference, or reluctance to take action on the authorities’ behalf.
Growing Number of Lynchings
In March this year, The Indian Express reported that a 22-year-old was beaten to death in Palamu, allegedly by a group of molesters who had leered and passed lewd comments on his sister. In the ensuing incident, Vakil Khan lost his life, while 20-year-old Danish Khan was left in a criticals state.
Earlier in March 2016, it was reported that Imtiyaz Khan and Mazrum Ansari were beaten up and hanged from a tree by suspected cow vigilantes in Latehar district, an area suffering another isolated incidence of cow vigilantism.
In September 2018, a 26-year-old was fatally thrashed and two others were gravely injured. The three youth had gone to the house of a prospective bride at Tisibar village, 200km from Ranchi. They were dragged out and trounced by the mob after a kin of her spread a rumour that they were thieves.
Meanwhile, the intentions of the state’s administrators are palpable in their cavalier and stoic attitude, best summarised by CM Raghubar Das’s statement made in response to the barbaric lynching of two Muslims in Latehar.
“The district administration has been asked to stay alert and to ensure that such incidents aren’t repeated. But taking cattle outside the state is banned in Jharkhand.”Chief Minister Raghubar Das, as quoted by Janta Ka Reporter
Besides, a disproportionate number of Muslims, several Hindus, Christians and Adivasis have also fallen victim to honour killing and violence on love – particularly interfaith, but intercaste or otherwise as well.
It's high time we rescue the state from nosediving into disorder and disarray, lest, as its neighbours, Jharkhand too becomes irreversibly polarised. A traditional agrarian practice in rural Jharkhand is to erect fences of cacti (prickly pear), circumventing crop fields. This practice has proven to retain its success when adapted to securing votebanks.
(The author is a student, freelance journalist, activist, and a politics & philosophy enthusiast from Bokaro Steel City, Jharkhand. All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)