Shahzad Ansari, whose father Alimuddin was dragged out his vehicle and killed on the pretext of transporting beef in Jharkhand, finds it difficult to sleep. The images of his 45-year-old father being brutally thrashed by a group of alleged Bajrang Dal workers haunt him every day. Ansari recounts his wait for justice.
My father drove a Maruti van, transporting coal and other supplies. But days before his brutal murder, he was being watched by these 12 men from the neighbouring villages of Ramgarh (Jharkhand). Not that he had ever talked to them, ‘bas salaam-dua hoti thi inme se do logon ke saath (there would be customary greetings with two of them, named Rohit and Kapil). Little did we know that they were linked to the Bajrang Dal and looking for a pretext to attack my 45-year-old father.
It was a premeditated murder and these 12 had planned every step of the assault. They had planned to get away by claiming that my father was transporting beef. So many vehicles ply the roads, but they had to pick on my father’s only. All 12 of them belong to different villages, so what brought them together at the same spot on the fateful day? Video clips of the incident showed them attacking and thrashing my father. The court saw that and convicted 11 of them.
We were kind of relieved when they were sentenced to life imprisonment for their act. They were identified as Santosh Singh, Deepak Mishra, Vicky Saw, Sikandar Ram, Uttam Ram, Vikram Prasad, Raju Kumar, Rohit Thakur, Chottu Verma, Kapil Thakur and a local BJP leader, Nityanand Mahto.
But within months of the Ramgarh district court’s order, eight of the 11 convicts were given bail by the Ranchi High Court. Their argument in the high court was that they were among the bystanders and not attackers. This was despite video evidence! Later in July, another one of them, Chottu was released on bail too. Now only Deepak Mishra is inside prison.
Chottu can be seen clearly in every clip, wielding a rod and thrashing him. Even witnesses identified and named him. Yet, he was let off. It was a large mob, with many people watching the tamasha, clicking my father’s pictures and recording the assault but not one stepped forward to save his life.
The video of my father’s killing is still on YouTube. A simple Google search with my father’s name brings out those ghastly images. Those images revolve around my eyes every day, not allowing me to sleep peacefully. His killers continue with their lives as usual; only now they are emboldened. They chase other people shouting slogans while policemen stand as mute spectator.
It was never like this before in our area.
With six children (three boys and three girls) my father was the sole breadwinner in our family. Now that he’s dead and our van reduced to ashes, we are unable to make ends meet. Ramgarh deputy commissioner Rajeshwari B had promised that one of us (sons of Ansari) will be awarded a sarkari naukri but nothing has materialised as yet.
We plan to move the Supreme Court to challenge their bail. The Muslim community as well as other villagers have been providing us with moral support and funds. We are fighting this together.
You know, one of the convicts, Sikandar, who was out on bail, got electrocuted within days of his release from prison. He was the one who had grabbed my father by the collar and dragged him out of the car. Maybe that’s divine justice.