Indian man beaten to death by mob three months after he cut ‘holy’ tree

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  • Sanju Pradhan
    Indian footballer
Representational image: A mob of angry villagers lynched a 34-year-old man to death for cutting down a tree in an area which was considered sacred according to the local tradition (AFP via Getty Images)
Representational image: A mob of angry villagers lynched a 34-year-old man to death for cutting down a tree in an area which was considered sacred according to the local tradition (AFP via Getty Images)

A 34-year-old man was dragged out of his home and killed by a mob in India’s eastern Jharkhand state for cutting down a “holy” tree in October last year.

The charred body of Sanju Pradhan was found by police on Tuesday evening.

Pradhan, who belonged to Chaprideepa village in the state’s Simdega district, was allegedly beaten by a mob and set on fire.

The man had cut down a tree considered sacred as per community traditions.

Villagers also resented Pradhan cutting down other trees in the area as well, police officer Rameshwar Bhagat was quoted as saying by the Indian Express newspaper.

Pradhan was dragged out of his home and taken to the neighbouring Besrajara village by angry villagers after which he was killed, police said on Tuesday.

He had missed a community meeting convened to discuss and resolve the issue.

“An angry mob of villagers brought him to the Besrajara area and beat him to death,” Mr Bhagat said.

“They also set his body on fire. We rushed to the spot after we received the information. We could reach the place only after negotiating with the villagers.”

“They did not want the tree felling to continue so a meeting was held with the district’s forest department in July last year,” Mr Bhagat said.

“A gram sabha [local governing body] was held and it was decided that Pradhan won’t cut trees in the area as it was an important place for them.”

Police said the tree had a “religious importance” for the local community in the village and that “they are very sentimental about it.”

Pradhan had, however, recently started cutting trees in the area again. Mr Bhagat said this was when the villagers decided to call a meeting and invited him.

But Pradhan didn’t turn up, angering the villagers.

He was a member of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), a banned political entity, and was out on bail.

Indian Express reported that about 500 people were involved in lynching the man. But police said about 100 to 150 people were involved.

Pradhan’s body has been sent for a postmortem after which the exact cause of death will be ascertained.

A case has been registered and identification of the accused is going on.

“We are trying to ascertain the exact sequence of events that led to the killing,” Sushant Gaurav, the district’s deputy police commissioner told the media.

“The administration and police are working to bring the culprits to justice.”

The case comes on the heels of the Jharkhand state government passing a law in December last year to prevent mob violence.

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