Ranchi: In a move that will go a long way in restoring the faith of the people in the judicial process, the murderers of Asgar Ali, who lynched him on the pretext that they suspected that he was transporting cow meat, were convicted by a trial court.
A fast-track Ramgarh district court on Wednesday (March 21) sentenced 11 convicts, including BJP leader Nityanand Mahto and cow vigilantes, to rigorous life imprisonment for beating to death 42-year-old Asgar Ali on June 29, 2017, on the suspicion that he had been transporting banned meat.
On March 16, the court had held the 11 guilty of lynching Ali, alias Alimuddin, under various sections of IPC. The twelfth accused, aged 17 years , is being tried separately at Ramgarh juvenile court.
On Wednesday, the court of district and additional sessions judge Om Prakash heard arguments of both prosecution and defence over the quantum of punishment for 30 minutes from 12.30pm to announce the sentence in a jam-packed chamber. The judge ignored the convicts’ plea for leniency.
Nityanand apart, others who got life terms were cow vigilantes Deepak Mishra, Chhotu Verma and Santosh Singh, and bystanders Vicky Sao, Sikandar Ram, Vikram Prasad, Raju Kumar, Rohit Thakur, Kapil Thakur and Uttam Ram.
Ali, who was lynched barely 2.5km from Ramgarh thana, died on way to hospital even as the mob torched his white Maruti van. His widow Mariam Khatoon lodged an FIR (198/2017) with Ramgarh police, which was probed by sub-inspector Vidyavati Ohdar.
The 12 accused, including the juvenile, whose name is withheld as he is a minor, were part of the mob that had attacked Ali brutally. Video clips recorded by bystanders showed the teenager in green shirt and blue shorts beating Ali with a polycarbonate stick.
Assistant public prosecutor Sushil Kumar Shukla, who argued for the police, said he was satisfied with the sentence.
“Investigation and trial were completed in record time. Harsh punishment is needed for people who create religious ill-will,” Shukla was quoted as saying.
The convicts were held guilty under sections 302 (murder), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 427 (mischief causing damage to property) and 435 (mischief by fire or explosives) of IPC.
During trial, the court recorded statements of 19 witnesses for the prosecution, which also produced 59 documents and many exhibits, including video clips that went viral and the polycarbonate stick. The defence produced only one witness.