New Delhi: Six people, who were arrested in 2017 for lynching a 45-year-old Jharkhand meat trader, were provided financial assistance by the Bharatiya Janata Party, Union minister Jayant Sinha has claimed.
"They (accused) came from a poor family. Their family members requested us to assist them financially in order to help them in hiring an able advocate. I, along with other members of the party (BJP) helped them in paying for the advocate's fees," Sinha was quoted as saying by the Indian Express.
Sinha had earlier triggered a controversy by felicitating and posing with the six accused after they were released on bail and went straight to the minister's residence in Hazaribagh.
When asked if he and other leaders should have waited for acquittal of the accused before felicitating them, Sinha said various opposition leaders are garlanded across the country despite being accused in various cases.
The Union minister said although he has sympathy for the victim's family and condemns the lynching, the accused in the case were "innocent". "I have great sympathy for the victims' family. Whatever happened is tragic but the people who came to my house were innocent. You've made this assumption that they were the perpetrators. This assumption of yours is flawed," he was quoted as saying.
Sinha also said that if the victim's widow approached him to extend any help, he would have provided assistance to her. "If Mariyam (widow) would have approached me for help, I would have definitely helped her," he said. The report stated that the BJP leader made the admissions during an interview with BBC Hindi.
On June 29, 2017, a group of people had lynched 45-year-old Alimuddin Ansari in Bazaar Tand locality of Ramgarh town on the suspicion that he was carrying beef in his car.
A fast track court in Ramgarh had convicted 12 persons in this connection and sentenced 11 of them to life imprisonment on March 21 this year. Among them was a juvenile.
Of the 11 convicts sentenced to life imprisonment, ten were granted bail by the Jharkhand High court while one accused were behind the bars. Among the ten convicts out on bail, one convict Sikandar Ram was electrocuted near his home in Ramgarh town in July last year.