Will rising lynching cases in Jharkhand affect polls?

AP/PTI file photo

Mob lynching claims another life in Jharkhand as 48-year-old Mubarak Ansari is killed and 26-year-old Akhtar Ansari lies injured in the Bokaro General Hospital, on 'suspicion of theft'. Since the recent nationwide outcry that followed Tabrez Ansari's murder, lynch mobs in Jharkhand seemingly remain unfazed as cases of lynching continue to occur. 

Mubarak Ansari is the fourth reported victim of lynching since Tabrez in June 2019, and the 22nd lynching death in the state between 18 March 2016 and 22 Sep 2019, according to The Print. Twelve out of these victims, including Mubarak Ansari, were Muslims, whereas two were tribal Christians killed for beef consumption/possession, and five were Hindus lynched because of 'child trafficking' rumours circulated via messaging apps such as WhatsApp. Jharkhand, along with Uttar Pradesh, is currently among the Indian States that account for the highest number of deaths in cases related to mob violence, more commonly involving minorities attacked by cow vigilante groups.

According to the Human Rights Watch, Jharkhand accounts for  17 out of 44 lynching-related deaths reported across 12 Indian States between 2015 and 2018.

The NGO released information stating that a staggering 36 out of the 44 dead were Muslims. Other minority communities who are often victims of lynching in India are Dalits and Adivasis. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly condemned the killing of Tabrez Ansari where the youth was brutally beaten and forced to chant 'Jai Shree Ram', many members of the BJP and affiliated parties have been directly or indirectly involved in cow vigilantism and lynching. For instance, Union Minister Jayant Sinha had personally garlanded those responsible for the lynching of Alimuddin Ansari in Ramgarh, Jharkhand (2017). An IndiaSpend report states that 97% of cow-vigilantism related attacks have occurred after Narendra Modi's BJP government came to power in 2014, and up until 2018, 47 cases of mob lynching have taken place in BJP-ruled states, and 10 cases in Congress-ruled states.

With Assembly elections looming over Jharkhand, the question arises on how the rising lynching cases will affect the BJP stronghold state. As of now,  the National Crime Records Bureau of India does not publish independent data for mob lynching, thus, making news reports and investigations the primary source for such data.

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