We have just returned tonight from the 30th journey of the Karwan-e-Mohabbat, after three days travelling the interiors of Jharkhand. It was, as most of our journeys have been, extremely harrowing and painful.
We travelled first to Gumla district, where an older tribal man Prakash Lakra was brutally attacked, with his body parts being cut and smashed, along with 3 other tribal men who were severely injured. Their ‘crime’? It is customary when cattle dies for impoverished tribal villagers to carve out meat pieces for their dinner that night. This is what they were doing with a dead bull. The police did nothing to protect him or get him medical help, and instead encouraged the mob. It then registered criminal cases against the 3 surviving men, who have been hiding for months since. Only two days before our visit have they got bail, and could return to their village.
The visit next to the home of Tabrez Ansari was equally heart-breaking. An orphan, 22 years old, he had migrated at 16 and built a life for himself in Pune. He had come home to take his bride of two months earlier to Pune to start their life together. They were to leave the very night that he was slaughtered.
We then met with the families of eight people, including one old woman, four Muslim, and four Hindu, who were brutally killed in two separate incidents with mysterious rumours of child lifting. Both incidents happened the same day.
The stories of each of these lynchings are intensely traumatic. We will write the stories, as we must, for our countrywomen and men must know, and care. Although with each of our journeys, the writing of these tales becomes harder and harder. But until this mob violence ends, as it must end one day, we must not stop.
A great, horrifying evil is stalking our land. Unleashed are our worst selves. Equally terrifying in the role of the police in every one of these cases of lynching. We are determined, with the families, to fight for criminal action for abetment of murder to be filed against the police officials in every one of these cases.
In grief and in solidarity,
For the Karwan-e-Mohabbat