New Delhi: Calling lynchings a "blot on humanity", Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday expressed shock over "silence of powerful voices" after a 24-year-old youth was beaten to death in Jharkhand.
"The brutal lynching of this young man by a mob in Jharkhand is a blot on humanity. The cruelty of the police who held this dying boy in custody for 4 days is shocking as is the silence of powerful voices in the BJP ruled Central & State Govts," Gandhi tweeted.
Tabrez Ansari, 24, was beaten up by locals for hours on June 18 in Saraikela Kharsawan on suspicion of theft and later arrested. He succumbed to injuries on Saturday. Eleven people were arrested in the case, while two police personnel were suspended. They were officers-in-charge of Kharaswan and Sini police stations.
Saraikela Kharsawan Superintendent of Police Karthik S said Ansari and two others had entered a house in Seraikela village at night allegedly with an intention to commit theft. However, the occupants of the house woke up and raised an alarm, following which villagers caught hold of Ansari and "manhandled" him, while his accomplices managed to flee, he told reporters.
Ansari was found to be in possession of valuables, which he and and his associates had allegedly stolen from other villages, the officer said.
The police reached the spot in the morning and took Ansari to jail on the basis of a complaint from villagers, after administering first aid to him.
However, when his condition deteriorated in jail on the same day, he was taken to the Sadar Hospital, where he was diagnosed with multiple injuries, the SP said. Ansari was subsequently referred to the Tata Main Hospital in Jamshedpur.
Earlier, the police had said Ansari was tied to a pole and beaten up with sticks through the night. The video in question, circulated widely on social media platforms, was handed over to the police by Ansari's family members and it was being investigated, the SP said.
Ansari's wife, Shaista Praveen, has accused the police of taking the deceased to jail first, instead of a hospital. "The police should have taken him to a hospital, instead of arresting him and sending him to jail," Praveen, who recently got married to Ansari, has said in her complaint.
The incident has triggered angry reactions from various political parties across the country.
"Tabrez Ansari was lynched to death in BJP-ruled Jharkhand. A Hindu mob thrashed him ruthlessly because he refused to chant 'Jai Sri Ram'. Is this NDA 2.0's New India? Yeh kaunsa tareeka hai sabka vishwas jeetnay ka (what kind of a process is this to win everyone's trust?," Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said in a tweet.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief and Member of Parliament Asaduddin Owaisi said such incidents now followed a familiar pattern.
"This is the pattern with almost all lynchings. First, a Muslim is murdered by cow lovers. Then the most ridiculous excuses begin: a 'suspicion' of beef possession, theft, smuggling & love jihad. So much for sabka vishwas when we can be killed over mere 'suspicions'," he said in a tweet.
The incident also found mention in the Rajya Sabha, when senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said Jharkhand had become a "lynching factory".
"Dalits and Muslims are being killed there every week. Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi, we are with you in the fight of 'sabka saath sabka vikas', but it should be there for people to see it. We cannot see it anywhere," he said.