Ranchi: Child trafficking and Jharkhand are no strangers. According to available date, Jharkhand is infamous for human trafficking cases in India. It ranks second in the country, while its neighbouring state West Bengal ranks first for trafficking. In fact most of the missing children are tribals . Jharkhand has been plagued with this problem since long. Even after gaining a separate identity, the state’s political leaders or administration has failed to address it as a serious issue. However, till date, lynching of human on mere suspicion of being human traffickers had not been reported.
Jharkhand not new to trafficking
In fact, according to a 2015 news report published by NDTV in 2015, mentioned that for at least 4000 children went missing from Jharkhand in the last decade. Of which, 1000 have never been traced out.
And despite all this, never till May 18, this year, have people been lynched to death by a mob, just on the basis of a rumour doing the rounds, alerting people about traffickers on the prowl. The two recent incidents, where seven people were lynched to death near Jamshedpur, definitely has more to it than a simple, child trafficking angle, many believe.
Now the death toll of those killed in the two cases of Jharkhand lynching has gone up to eight, with a 75-year-old woman succumbing to her injuries, which were inflicted on her as she tried saving her grandchildren from the mob, who was mercilessly lynching them. The mob on a rampage did not spare her despite her age. In fact she was beaten up so badly that she went into coma and was admitted at Jamshedpur’s Tata Memorial Hospital, where she breathed her last on Sunday evening.
Beware of rumours on social media
The message being circulated through WhatsApp around Jamshedpur area since a fortnight. Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, author of Adivasi Will Not Dance has raised the concern in an article which was published by the Scroll. In it he states, “Nearly every day, I see Santhal men, women, and children migrating from Pakur. So many minors must being kidnapped, forced to do things that no human being aspiring to live a life of dignity should ever do. Why is there no outrage? Why does a stray rumour of a kidnapping makes a mob in a mofussil town lynch some men ruthlessly while the entire nation is quite blind to the reality of Adivasi women and children being trafficked day in and day out?”
Cow vigilantism on the rise
Lynching suspects began in the name of cow vigilantism in India, when a mob lynched Akhlaque Ahmed, father of an army man in Dadri in 2014, and has only been spreading off to other states like an unstoppable wave, cause deaths of many, without any proof, just on the ground of suspicion.
“In some cases, tribal people who are really poor, often themselves send their child or daughters to work outside the state in lieu of some money. Despite being aware of the risks involved, the still play a vital role in getting their own kids trafficked, as they have no other option,” told Amit Raja, a senior journalist and the author of Jharkhand Ki Betiya, a book published in 2001, to eNewsroom.
In a major claim made by activist Mustqim Siddiqui, of Insaaf India (an NGO), one person called Sunil, a resident of Govindpur village, police station Rajgunj was present in both the lynching cases. “We have visited both the places and have met and interacted with some of the family members of the deceased. The most astonishing revelation was the fact that Sunil, an auto-rickshaw driver, a member of Bajrang Dal, was present at both the spots where lynching took place,” Siddiqui told eNewsroom.
He also claimed that these are not just two stand alone cases that Jharkhand has witnessed. He maintained, “Prior to these two cases, there have been a few more incidents of people having been killed around Jamshedpur on the basis of rumours spread like in this case. However, no FIR has been registered by the police in any such case.”
Police, a mere spectator?
The role of police in this case has been highly disappointing, as at both the places, police had reached on time and could helped those being lynched to death. According to Uttam, one of the two survivours from Jharkhand’s lynching episode, “In presence of the police, the assailants kept beating my brother mercilessly. They just did nothing. They were like spectators. In fact, my grandmother, who had come to save us, got beaten and later saw her grandchild being lynched to death in the presence of police. And now, she too has succumbed to her injuries,” he said.
Significantly, DIG, Kolhan Prabhat Kumar, has accepted that till date no child lifting incident has been reported, but, he blamed social media and whatsapp for spreading such rumours.
However, Hansda has a message for the people of Jharkhand, “I hope people do not pay attention to rumours and do not react impulsively. Any rash action might be harmful for everyone.”