Accused in lynching of man in Rajasthan still remain free

Routine disposal of cow carcasses by municipality contractor led to rumours

November 01, 2015 11:10 pm | Updated November 02, 2015 10:34 am IST - Birloka (Rajasthan):

A tin-shed that lies tumbled over the sand in village Birloka marks the spot where 60-year-old Abdul Ghaffar Qureshi was lynched by a mob on May 30 this year. Once a meat shop, the shed was ruined, Ghaffar was beaten up and his house destroyed, on the pretext that he might, in future, sell beef at his shop.

Four months before the Dadri lynching, in the Rajasthan village of Birloka, 350 km from Jaipur, an angry mob allegedly beat Ghaffar with sticks and iron rods till a family in the neighbourhood tore through the mob to save him. Ghaffar died the following day.

Thirty-five years ago Ghaffar had entered Birloka in Nagaur district’s Khinwsar tehsil as a young man from another village of Amarpura 200 km away to earn a living as a meat seller. “Few years ago Ghaffar's meat shop was objected to by a family from another community that resided opposite his shop,” Haider (name changed), a resident of Birloka, told The Hindu .

The series of events that led to Ghaffar’s lynching began on May 30 in Kumhari village, also in Nagaur district, where carcasses of about 200 cows were strewn across a field after a municipality contractor had rented the field to dispose of a cattle carcass, as a routine municipal exercise.

A rumour spread that Muslims had killed the 200 cows for a feast and pictures of the carcasses started circulating through WhatsApp and Facebook. Slowly, thousands of people from nearby areas collected at the field.

“By the afternoon [of May 30] over five thousand people had collected at the ground where the cows were being disposed of,” Khinwsar Station House Officer Bharat Rawat said.

Mr. Rawat was injured while trying to control the violent mob. When the word spread, the locals, mostly youths, across Nagaur called for a bandh and hate speeches were made across the district. The shopkeepers were forcefully made to shut their stores, he said.

By the evening, in Birloka, about 60 km from Kumhari, a place with no history of communal violence, a mob angered by the pictures of carcasses of cows and instigated by Ghaffar’s neighbour who wanted Ghaffar to leave the village, attacked him with sticks and iron rods.

Kavita Srivastava of People's Union for Civil Liberties in Jaipur who visited Birloka after the lynching incident said, “Rajasthan is a livestock based economy and municipalities have appointed people to dispose of dead cattle. It is saddening that the current situation is volatile enough to make people shed blood over unconfirmed rumours.”

The State and Central governments had paid Ghaffar’s family Rs 8 lakh as compensation. Beyond that the incident remains unacknowledged. Four months after the incident only three persons are in jail, and seven others that have to be arrested are absconding.

In Birloka Ghaffar's death is not spoken about in public, but it has become an incident that the village will remember forever.

“Whether we accept it or not Ghaffar’s lynching incident has changed the atmosphere of the village and the saddest thing is that Birloka will never be the same again,” Haider said.

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