A court in Jharkhand on Friday sentenced eight convicts to life for their involvement in the lynching of two people in the state’s Latehar district in March 2016, PTI reported. The court also ordered each convict to pay a fine of Rs 25,000.

The court of First Class Judicial Magistrate Rishikesh Kumar had convicted Manoj Sahu, Awadhesh Sao, Pramod Sao, Mithilesh Sao alias Banti, Vishal Tiwary, Manoj Kumar Sao, Sahadev Soni and Arun Sao on Wednesday. Public prosecutor Balram Prasad said the convicts will have to spend an extra year in prison if they fail to pay the fine.

On March 17, 2016, cow vigilantes had abducted cattle trader Majloom Ansari and schoolboy Imtiaz Khan while they were on their way to a cattle fair in a neighbouring district. They then lynched the two and hanged them from a tree. Five of the accused were arrested within 24 hours of the crime, while the others surrendered later.

Human rights bodies earlier this year had demanded the arrest of a state Bharatiya Janata Party leader for his involvement in the lynching. The groups had carried out an independent investigation and demanded that the Jharkhand government challenge the bail granted to the accused as well as take action against the police officers responsible for “sabotaging” the inquiry into the case.

Jharkhand had witnessed a spate of lynchings last year. While a man was beaten to death in Ramgarh district in June 2017 on suspicion of carrying beef, more than 100 people had attacked a Muslim dairy farmer in Giridih district suspecting that he had slaughtered a cow.

In June this year, a mob in the state’s Godda district had allegedly lynched two men on the suspicion of stealing cattle. cattle trader, and Imitiaz Khan (12) were found hanging from a tree between Jhabar and Chetan areas under Balumath police station limits on March 17, 2016.