Union minister Jayant Sinha on Thursday told the BBC said that he and members of the Bharatiya Janata Party had given financial aid to persons accused in a lynching case in Jharkhand to help them pay the legal fees. Sinha was clarifying his stance on an incident in which he was criticised for garlanding the men accused of lynching cattle trader Alimuddin Ansari in Jharkhand in 2017.
The BJP MP from Hazaribagh condemned the lynching but said that the accused in the case were innocent and had to unfairly remain in jail for a year. “I am very sympathetic to Mariam Khatoon [the victim’s widow] and Alimuddin Ansari,” Sinha said. “But the people who came to my house were innocent and very poor. It was a private occasion. They [the accused and his family] came to my house and told me that I have given him a new life and asked me to garland him. And I complied.”
The minister said that someone uploaded footage of the event on Facebook and the media picked it up and distorted it.
Sinha denied that his action was inappropriate and described a certain section of the media as biased. “There are so many friends in the media that are connected with an ideology, and believe that they are guilty,” Sinha said. “If anyone studies this case and reads the High Court’s bail order, it will be obvious that those who came to my house were innocent.”
The BJP leader said he stood for “absolute justice”. “I say that the victim should get justice, but so should those who have been imprisoned for a year,” Sinha said. “He [the accused] was so poor that he did not even have the money to present his case properly in court.”
To a question on if he helped the family of the deceased, Sinha said, “If Mariam Khatoon came to my home or someone asked me for help, then I would have been absolutely cooperative.”
When asked if he would garland any lynching accused in the future if the opportunity arises, Sinha answered in the negative. “I say no, because people misuse such situations to benefit themselves,” he said. “The optics become bad. I acted that way to ensure that justice is done.”
In July 2018, Sinha had expressed regret for garlanding eight men accused in the case because it gave critics “an opportunity to say I was condoning vigilantism”, Hindustan Times had reported.
Meanwhile, Khatoon told the BBC that she will only be convinced that the government was ready to help her if they give her son a job.
Sinha is the son of former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, who has been critical of the party and the Centre.