The man, later identified as 24-year-old Tabrez Ansari, was beaten for hours until he died at the hands of a Hindu mob in the eastern state of Jharkhand. The death of Ansari, who married less than two months ago and is seen crying and begging for mercy in the video, has sparked protests in cities across India. His family says they were threatened by the police with a similar fate when they begged to get him treated while he was in custody, according to a report in The Wire. Police have arrested at least 11 people over the attack.
Ansari became the first victim of hate crime in the second term of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. He is survived by a young wife who wants to know who in the country she can now turn to for justice. “My husband was my only support. Who will I live for now? I want justice,” she told the TV channel NDTV.
Just two days after the attack on Ansari, a 26-year-old Muslim teacher who taught in a religious seminary was thrown out of a train in the eastern state of West Bengal. Hafeez Mohammed Haldar was traveling when a mob chanted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ ( Glory to Lord Ram) and pushed him out of the train. Hafeez managed to escape death with minor injuries.
In the same week, on June 27, a Muslim cab driver, 25-year-old Faizal Usman Khan was beaten up by a group of men at night, barely minutes away from Mumbai, India’s celebrated cosmopolitan city. When Faizal begged for mercy, the men asked him to chant Jai Shri Ram, now a rallying cry for Hindu nationalists in the country.
The U.S. Commission for International Human Rights has condemned the lynching of Ansari, observing the recognizable pattern of hate crimes against minorities that marks India’s dangerous slide into a majoritarianism long dreaded by those who have observed Modi’s past on human rights. The USCIRF chairman Tony Perkins called for the Indian government to take action to prevent further violence. “We condemn in the strongest terms this brutal murder, in which the perpetrators reportedly forced Ansari to say Hindu chants as they beat him for hours.”
Soon after Modi was re-elected as the Prime Minister of India on May 23, he gave a conciliatory speech trying to reassure Muslims. But in the five years of Modi’s first term in power, hate crime against Muslims soared; data shows that some 90% of religious hate crimes in the last decade have occurred since Modi came to power.