Garlanded Ramgarh Accused But Don’t Endorse Lynching: Jayant Sinha
Facing intense criticism from the Opposition over felicitating eight Ramgarh lynching case convicts, Union minister Jayant Sinha on Wednesday, 11 July, said:
"I have said many times that the matter is still sub-judice. It won't be fair to talk on this. Law will take its own course. We have always worked towards punishing the guilty and sparing the innocent," he told PTI.
The eight convicts, who were out on bail, met the Union Minister for State of Civil Aviation at his residence in Hazaribagh on 6 July. He garlanded them, offered them sweets and advised them to have faith in the judiciary. He told them he was "very happy" to see them as they belonged to his constituency and that it was his duty to provide them justice. The eight convicts thanked Sinha for helping them get a lawyer who took their case to the high court.
The men have been accused of killing Alimuddin Ansari in Ramgarh on 29 June 2017. Ansari, a trader, was lynched by a mob who accused him of carrying beef in the vehicle he was travelling in.
Ansari's widow Mariam Khatoon had lodged an FIR with Ramgarh town police station against 17 people, including BJP functionary Nityanand Mahto. The investigating officer had filed a charge sheet against 12 of the 17 accused, including a juvenile and the Ramgarh fast track court had convicted 11 of them and sentenced them to life term imprisonment.
‘Sinha Must Quit, Modi Govt Must Apologise For Supporting Violence Against Minorities’: Retired IAS Officials
Meanwhile, 50 retired IAS officers, in a press statement, demanded the removal of Sinha from his ministerial position. While saying that they support the course of law and the accused are entitled to the bail that they were granted, the statement read that it was “unseemly” of the minister to felicitate them
It was, however, most unseemly of the Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Shri Jayant Sinha, to felicitate the convicts as though they were some revolutionaries in a freedom struggle. His subsequent feeble justifications on social media do not hold water. If he genuinely felt that the law should take its course, prudence (if not humanity) dictated that he should have been circumspect in his actions.The press release read
They further said that they strongly condemn his action, “which amounts to showing contempt for the rule of law and the Constitution of India, which he is duty bound to uphold.”
Highlighting similar instances where the ruling ministers or leaders have openly sided with the accused in the past, including the Kathua rape case, the statement read that it indicates a majoritarian mindset that believes it is entitled to use the law to meet its own narrow ends.
“The larger and chilling message that Shri Sinha’s action sends out is that there is a license to kill minorities and that those who are accused of such crimes will be enthusiastically supported financially, legally and politically,” the statement read.
Demanding to know the stand of the Centre over the issue, the officers demanded immediate removal of Sinha from his post. In the statement, the retired IAS officers wrote:
(With inputs from PTI)