How the Police Response to the Lynchings in Jharkhand was Characterised by a Lack of Clarity on the Events that Led to the Killings

25 June 2017
The charred remains of the car in which Sheikh Sajjad, Sheikh Halim, Riyaz Khan, and Naeem were travelling. The four men were killed by a mob that lynched them on the suspicion that they were "child-lifters."
Subham Dutta/ Indian Express Archive
The charred remains of the car in which Sheikh Sajjad, Sheikh Halim, Riyaz Khan, and Naeem were travelling. The four men were killed by a mob that lynched them on the suspicion that they were "child-lifters."
Subham Dutta/ Indian Express Archive

On 18 May, seven men were lynched to death during two disturbing incidents that took place within 20 hours of each other. Both incidents occurred in the Kolhan division of Jharkhand, within a 40-kilometre radius of Jamshedpur city. In each incident, a mob attacked a group of men, and brutally beat them to death using sticks, stones, rods and axes. In both instances, the victims were suspected of being “baccha chor”—child-lifters.

The first incident took place during the early hours of the morning that day. It originated in Shobhapur village in Seraikela-Kharsawan district. The second occurred in Nagadih village in East Singhbhum district. Four Muslim men were killed in the first incident.  Three Hindu men—two brothers and their friend—were killed in the second.

The news of these deaths travelled quickly. Short videos of the lynchings were circulated widely on social media. According to news reports, police officials were present during both instances. The incidents also received widespread media coverage. Yet, the events leading up to the violence were unclear. Although most reports noted that the victims in each case were suspected of being child-lifters, there was little information regarding where or how these rumours began. Both villages fall under areas of the region that are dominated by tribal people. Some stories blamed these residents, portraying them as vicious and lawless.

Sagar is a staff writer at The Caravan.

Keywords: Jharkhand lynchings Nagadih Shobapur
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