Folk Singer Amad Khan Lynched to Death Brutally in Rajasthan, Muslims Flee Village: PUCL Report

Written by Sabrangindia Staff | Published on: October 12, 2017
It was caste and religion that equally viciously both worked against Amad Khan (50 years) in village Dantal in Jaisalmer district a few days ago when he was unable to satisfy a village faith healer Ramesh Suthar with the quality of a raag (melody) he was asked to sing on Navratri. He was beaten on the spot, and later at night picked up from his house and allegedly killed. His body had severe marks of injury all over. The ghastly incident happened on September 27. It has not caused wide 'national outrage.' The FIR, according to PUCL was filed only on October 2.

amad khan
गाना गाते हुए आमद खान (बाएं). हमेशा के लिए शांत हो चुके आमद (दाएं) Image: http://www.thelallantop.com

The village where the incident happened is Dantal, Phulsund Thana, Jaisalmer district.The bhopa of the temple  and the main accused is Ramesh Ram Suthar. The other accused are Tara Ram and Shyam Ram Suthar, brothers of Ramesh
 
Aamad Khan Manganiyar is survived by his wife and four children, one son and one daughter are waiting to get married
 
During Navratra the devi is supposed to come into the bhopa. He had asked Aamad khan to sing raag parcha (devi)which has both powers miraculous and that of destruction, it has always been sung by the Manganiyar in temples. Here Aamad khan was asked to sing and he was not good enough, that they, the bhopa and his brothers screamed at him and probably beat him, broke his instrument that he left the place, since there was a big crowd of devotees, so maybe the Bhopa felt embarrassed that he could not jhumo, (be in a trance)and complained that the bhopas singing was the reason.
 
 Aamad khan was reportedly picked up later. By the bhopa and his brothers family,  Some say that in the maar peet, he fell on a stone and died, some say he was deliberately killed by the bhopa and his brothers. Well it is murder whatever be the manner in which he died. The post mortem report shows serious assault injuries. 
 
An FIR was lodged four days later. According to the localites the Suthars promised to give some money to the bhopa family, But when it didnot come in 4 days they lodged the FIR. Also one of the educated relatives of the manganiyars family arrived from jodhpur and got the FIR lodged. whatever it be, every murder must have an FIR and we are glad the the Manganiyars didnot submit to community pressure of not lodging the FIR
 
This was seen as breaking the village code and lodging an FIR against the Bhopa, who is a religious head and rich. It resulted in  all the communities coming together against the manganiyars. Remember this village is  rajput dominated. Sarpanch Rajput. The suthars are OBC and  have the support of the rajputs and others. 
 
The anger and consolidation of the other communities against them for having taken police recourse, led to the exodus of the 40 manganiyars families.
 
 The day the body was exhumed nobody even gave them water for washing and vaju. Which is when they all Left. And stayed in a close by place called Balad in the open, where they have relatives. The fear was such that they left their cows, goats and one even left a horse behind and didnot have the courage to bring it. Finally the police brought the ghoda. 
 
These manganiyars are so poor and none have ever gone abroad, donot even have passports. They are absolutely local kalakars, who even today get 10 rs for a song. Many go to the NREGA work sites. Very low and poor wages they get in NREGA.
 
The 40 families could not depend on their relatives for too long, so about 20 of 40   families of the manganiyars in exile  left Balad and came into Jaisalmer on the October 9. About 160 of them. Others are with relatives.
 
The police of Phulsund Thana arrested the bhopa and still his two brothers have not been arrested. The district police assured them of a chowki, motivated them to come back but they are not going back. 
 
"The fear is real. They are now in the city will probably do hard labour (mazdoori) and survive. Living in a rein basera, temporary community says PUCL.
 
Was it the 'Muslim angle' that got him lynched ? PUCL says possibly not "They are mirasis, the untouchable Muslim dholis although in the category of caste are OBC. (You also have hindu dholis are SCs). If there was the  caste / religion angle then the manganiyars in the first place would not be singing parcha and devi raag in the temple, during navratri, which is a normal feature. The fact that they were not submissive and challenged the caste and religious authority they are facing the wrath.
 
On the October 10, the district collector called the Sarpanch a Rajput to mediate and take the manganiyars back. But it did not work out as the manganiyars are really scared, the brother Baryam of Aamad khan said, that nobody helped us that day when we were requesting for.help when they killed our brothef 
 
What is the village demography of Dantal ? As of now: 15 suthars, 40 manganiyars (=33 have ration card), 250 rajput, 20 charan in dhanis, 50 meghwal ( the last time there was a meghwal Sarpanch ) and then other castes
 
PUCL statement:
 
"The PUCL condemns this murder. This murder as a part of the increasing lawlessness in the state, related to brutal aggression by dominant castes and religions. Lynching of an untouchable, a muslim singer, by the dominant castes with the tacit and active support of the other castes in the village, also because the manganiyar didnot accept their fate and lodged an FIR, so the threats by the rest of the villagers ki gaon ki baat toh gaon mein hi rahni thi, has to be condemned in no uncertain terms. . 
 
*What is the district administration doing that the  community of more than 200 people  had to move out of the village in exile. An already impoverished community who are the nation's heritage for their incredible music, which is world famous, and not   given support and have to end up as mazdoors in the city as refugees, is shameful. 
 
*The administration should restrain those who are threatening the manganiyars. File criminal cases against them. And immediately restore the Manganiyars  back into the village
 
Demands:
 
-- Immediate compensation of Rs 25 lakhs against the untimely death. He is survived by his wife, four children, 2 sons and 2 daughters. Only one daughter and one son is married. Compensation for them.
 
--Vasundhara Raje government is not interested as to what happens to people as just now she is trying to garner votes for the Ajmer and AlwAr seat. Manganiyar votes don't matter but Rajput, charan, meghwal, suthar votes matter so she is not even sayjng anything.
 
Background:
Rajasthan has been home to some of the most gruesome incidents in recent months. Amad Khan, from a folk community Langar Maganiyaar, would sing during Navratri at the local village temple. This time around he was doing the same when Suthar reportedly asked him to sing a specific raga so that the spirit of the goddess of the temple entered his body. Sutha, according to the locals, would ‘cure’ local problems, getting his authority from the spirit of the goddess as it were.

But this time the goddess eluded Suthar, and he blamed Khan for not singing properly. He assaulted the singer, broke his musical instruments. And at night Khan was reportedly abducted from his residence, with his body being thrown outside the house later. Local reporters said that Khan’s family received threats later and warned against going to the police. His brother told local reporters that they were terrified and so buried his body quietly.

However, a few days later they mustered the courage with the support of relatives and others who visited them to register a complaint with the police. But after this the threats took real shape and at least 20 terrified families of about 200 persons left the village, Suge Khan was reported as having said.

The Dantal village sarpanch, according to the Hindustan Times claimed that Khan had died of a cardiac arrest, and that the Muslims had left the village in anger when the locals did not accompany them to the police station. The police, however, confirmed that he had died of physical assault. Jaisalmer superintendent of police SP Gaurav Yadav has been quoted as saying, “We have assured them of protection if they want to return...We have also spoken to village elders and told them that cases would be lodged if they threaten the Muslims.” Yadav added.

However, caste seems to have played a major part in this violence. PUCL activist Kavita Srivastava told Sabrangindia that since “Amad Khan a Manganiya broke the code and went went against the bhopa, all the communities came together against the Manganiyar in this Rajpur dominated village.” She said that Suthars are OBC’s, relatively few in number and so have the support of the Rajputs here.

Srivastava said that the “anger and consolidation of the other communities against the Manganiyars for having taken police recourse, led to the exodus. The day the body was exhumed nobody even gave them water for washing and prayers. Which is when they all left. And stayed in a close by place called Balad in the open, where they have relatives. The fear was such that they left their horse behind and did not have the courage to bring it to them. Finally the police brought the horse.”

The police have arrested Suthar but two of his accomplices charged with abducting and killing Khan are still at large. The families are too scared to return to the village, Srivastava said adding that they will probably work in the city as labour and somehow survive.

According to Kavita Srivastava, the Muslim angle in this incident is not dominant. Khan and the other families who have fled are “ untouchable Muslim dholis” There are Hindu dholis as well, she said, suffering from the same caste discrimination. “ If there was the caste / religion angle then the manganiyars in the first place would not be singing parcha and devi raag in the temple, during navratri, which is a normal feature,” she added.

The upper caste consolidation against them was because they were not submissive and challenged caste and religious authority, Srivastava said.