The Ramgarh Police on Saturday arrested a Bharatiya Janata Party leader in connection with the lynching of a Muslim trader, Asgar Ansari, in the Jharkhand district on June 29. Nityanand Mahato, who works for the party’s media cell in Ramgarh, however, claimed that he had only joined the mob that killed Ansari “to find out what happened”, The Indian Express reported.
His colleague, Varun Singh, told the newspaper that Mahato had arrived at the spot only after the incident took place and was seen standing next to police officials. “The police went ahead and arrested him in haste,” Singh said.
Earlier in the day the main accused, Chottu Rana, surrendered before the court, Hindustan Times reported. Rana can be seen beating Ansari with a stick in a video of the incident.
On Friday, the police had formed a Special Investigation Team to look into the lynching, and made one arrest. The police had sought arrest warrants for seven out of the 13 people named in the FIR.
Ansari’s wife had claimed that the mob that beat her husband to death mostly included Bajrang Dal members. Mariam Khatoon had also denied reports that her husband traded in beef, and said that he was into coal trading. The police is investigating this claim as well.
Ansari was beaten to death on Thursday because the mob believed he was carrying beef in his van. They also set the vehicle on fire. The Centre had claimed there was no “religious angle” to Ansari’s murder, while calling it a “barbaric incident”. Days before Ansari was killed, more than a 100 people attacked a Muslim dairy farmer and set his house on fire in the state’s Giridh district suspecting that he had slaughtered a cow.