North Texas Indian Muslim group protests against lynching in Jharkhand

Tabrej Ansari, a 24-year-old man, was killed in Jharkhand last month.

In a show of outrage at the recent killing of an Indian Muslim clergyman, members of the North Texas Indian Muslim community protested in Dallas Sunday demanding justice for the deceased 24-year-old man in the state of Jharkhand in India last month. The protests were part of a nationwide protest held in Houston, New York City and Chicago.

The fatal beating of Tabrej Ansari on the night of June 17 was shown in a widely circulated video. A mob, accusing him of burglary, forced Ansari to chant in praise of Hindu gods before he was taken to the hospital where he succumbed to injuries.

Dismayed over the incident, about 200 people marched at Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas Sunday chanting, “We are Tabrez! Justice for Tabrez!”  The protesters have also called for the US Commission on International Religious Freedom to raise their concern with India at the highest level.

Syed Ali, vice president of the Indian American Council, said the incidents of the Hindu nationalist groups lynching Muslims have gone up in the last five years and described it as “a very dangerous trend,” reported The Dallas Morning News.

Sharib Haroon, a board member of the Dallas-Irving chapter of the Indian American Council, said religious minorities have long been facing backlash in India but “the machinery and the impunity were not there before.”

Muslims are minorities in India accounting for 14 percent of the country’s population, with Hindus constituting 80 percent. In its 2018 World Report, Human Rights Watch said the Indian government failed to “prevent or credibly investigate” mob attacks on religious minorities, especially Muslims, amid rumors that they traded or killed cows for beef, by extremist Hindu groups. The report quoted 18 such attacks as of November 2018 with a death toll of eight.

A State Department report in June this year noted that religious intolerance from Hindu nationalist groups has been growing under the current right-wing government in India, which was refuted by the Indian foreign ministry, saying there was no right “for a foreign entity/government to pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights”.

“India is proud of its secular credentials, its status as the largest democracy and a pluralistic society with a long-standing commitment to tolerance and inclusion,” said ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar.


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