Mithilesh Prasad Sahu, Pramod Kumar Sahu, Manoj Kumar Sahu, Manoj Sahu and Awadhesh Sao have killed two, a 35-year-old and a 13-year-old. They beat them with sticks, strangled them and then hanged them from a tree.
It is summer. In the village of Jhabar in Latehar district of Jharkhand that tree was a yellowish green. Its life was not meant to carry the weight of death.
Why were Mohammad Majloom and Inayatullah Khan killed? Oh come on, you say, stop jumping to conclusions. Just because they have Muslim names…
I did not even say it.
Pansare was not a Muslim; Rohith Vemula was not a Muslim; Soni Sori is not a Muslim.
They were taking their cattle to a fair, traversing the distance by foot over miles. It was a journey in the light and in the dark.
It was in this darkness that the five men – and perhaps there were more – began the assault. Arrests have been made:
Latehar Superintendent of Police Anoop Birtharay said:
“Five persons have been arrested. One of them is linked to a local gau raksha (cow protection) outfit. But neither the complainant nor the family members of the dead have blamed any particular organisation. We are probing the case from all possible angles. Prima facie it appears to have been a case of a gang attempting to loot cattle.”
People do loot. But for those in a hurry to rob and make a quick escape with the cattle to profit from it, they seemed to have relished in committing the murders. Not only did they kill the two, they hanged them. Another theory is there was a dispute with Majloom. If the dispute was over such financial concerns, the nature of the final touch to the killing is still not justified.
The hanging is a message. To shame. To hold them up as an example. How dare they – you – not respect their gau mata, the revered figure? Even the SP said that besides looting as motive, “Others pose as ‘protectors of cows’ and threaten traders with police action to extort money. But there are some who are driven by ideology.”
Yet, media reports are already talking about the communalisation of the issue. While politicians might want to benefit from this, can we ignore the fact that this is a political and communal issue?
If one side is accused of reaching conclusions based on religious lines, is not the other side trying to save itself from any blame along similar lines?
Do we even grieve for the loss of lives and the crime when we become so busy protecting ideologies? It is good to ask questions. But why are the questions always an attempt to cover up?
Or, they just end up sounding off. Senior journalist Shekhar Gupta said, “We don't get outraged because this is distant Jharkhand, not Dadri next door to Delhi. This is worse than Akhlaq.”
This is ridiculous and reduces one crime over another when the dynamics are the same. Cows. Mohammed Akhlaq was killed and his family members beaten up in Dadri, all because of suspected beef in the fridge. The meat was sent to the forensic lab and it was found to be lamb. A few days ago four Kashmiri students were arrested from their hostel in Rajasthan on suspicion of sneaking in beef. It turned out to be goat meat.
That is the reason I find the letter written by leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad a bit worrying. He writes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi:
“I would like to emphasize that cow slaughter is banned in most of the states of the country and there is no confusion about that. And it is nobody’s case that cow slaughter should not be banned. However, the normal transport and trading of animals from one place to another should not be targeted. It must not be with a preconceived notion that such transport and trade is meant for cow slaughter and the mobs and vigilantes sponsored by the affiliates of Sangh Parivar to recklessly target the members of minority community.”
He is obviously protecting his party, for the Congress has been helming the cow slaughter ban. Few talk about how this secular party also caters to the Hindu vote, in as much as it sends out a few gestures. This is not a legal position. Besides, the cow is used for commercial use and has substances forced into her to keep the dairy industry thriving. Cows are not revered as animals in the street. The cow is a tool; its reverence is a tool.
This image is being circulated on social media following the hangings. It is poignant and telling. Yet, I do not think it is about India having to hang its head in shame. If we feel ashamed for the acts of a few or a certain ideology, then we may as well wash our hands off dealing with those.
I do not usually use pictures of victims. This time I felt it should be a witness to our silence. For, after the little noises silence there will be until the next time…