Jharkhand Court Convicts 8 in Latehar Lynching Case 

Written by Sabrangindia | Published on: December 19, 2018
 

In a body blow to mobocracy and cow vigilantism, a Jharkhand court has convicted all 8 accused in the Latehar lynching case. This is the second time the court has convicted people in a lynching case, the first being the cold blooded and coordinated killing of coal trader Alimuddin Ansari.

 
On March 18, 2016, 32 year old cattle trader Mazloom Ansari and his business partner's 11 year old son Imtiaz Khan were mercilessly beaten and hanged from a tree by cow vigilantes in Jhabar village. Eight people, Manoj Kumar Sahu, Mithilesh Prasad Sahu, Pramod Kumar Sahu, Manoj Sao, Awadhesh Sao, Arun Sao, Sehdav Sao and Vishal Tiwari were accused in the case.

Ideally this should have been an open and shut case given the following indisputable facts:
  • At least three people saw the crime being committed
  • The eye witnesses knew at least some of the witnesses by face and name
  • The assailants had previously threatened to kill Ansari if he did not stop trading in cattle
Additionally, the autopsy reports corroborate the fact that the victims had been mercilessly beaten with “long, hard, rod like blunt” weapons. The cause of death was given as “asphyxia caused by hanging.” The ligature marks on their necks were said to be caused by a “rope or rope like” thing.
But the case became complicated due to investigative deficiencies and procedural lapses by the police, some of which suggest complicity with the perpetrators. These were discovered during an independent investigation by journalist Ajit Sahi.

How the Police Sabotaged the Case

  • The crime took place between 3am and 6am, yet the FIR was lodged 17 hours later. Interestingly, the autopsies were conducted even before the FIR was registered!
  • The FIR says police first became aware of the crime through Nizamuddin at 11am, but oddly enough they had recorded his statement at 9:30am. Meanwhile Manowar maintains the that police arrived on the crime scene at 7am and although he told them everything, they did not make any notes.
  • BJP leader Vinod Prajapati was named in the FIR, but even after two years he has neither been arrested nor questioned. Police did not pursue the matter saying there was no evidence against him
  • The other accused also confessed to their crimes before the police, however, no effort was made to record these confessions in the presence of a magistrate, thereby rendering them useless.
  • The prosecution failed to build a strong case allowing the accused to get bail in a murder case! Even more interestingly no effort has been made to appeal against the bail granted to the accused.
  • Finally, police did not book the accused under several stringent charges that are applicable in this case such as Sect 120 (B) of the CrPC for Criminal Conspiracy, Sec 362 (Abduction), Sec 153 (A) for Promoting Enmity on Religious Grounds and Sec 396 for Committing Dacoity with Murder, among others.

Eyewitness Accounts help secure Justice

But it was powerful eyewitness testimonies from Manowar Ansari (Mazloom’s younger brother) and Azad Khan (Imtiaz’s father) who watched in horror from a distance, hiding behind some bushes that helped secure justice for the slain duo.
Other powerful testimonies came from Imtiaz’s mother Najma Bibi who told the police that her son had given her the names of the eight accused and said they had been threatening him with murder if he did not stop his trade. Mazloom’s widow Saira Bibi also told the police how several men had visited their home a month and a half before the murder and openly threatened her husband. The names she gave matched those who were subsequently arrested. Saira’s father Naimuddin also named the eight accused as people who had previously threatened Mazloom.
Sentencing will take place on December 20.

Related:

Hanged by Gaurakshaks, Denied Justice by the State
Watch how Jharkhand Police sabotaged the Latehar Lynching case