Ranchi, June 29: A police team of 15 personnel drove off a strong mob of 1000 men who tried to throw a 60-year-old dairy farmer, identified as Mohammad Usman, into the flames when carcass of a cow was found outside his house at Barwabad village in Jharkhand’s Giridih district. The 15 policemen managed to hold off the mob for over two hours before forces from a CRPF camp nearby arrived to rescue Usman from the angry mob.

According to a report published in The Indian Express, eyewitnesses said that the mob set fire to a portion of his house on Tuesday afternoon and even wanted to drag and throw off Usman into the flames before the police dragged him into their Jeep, preventing the mob from dragging him out.

Prabhat Ranjan Barwar, the sub-divisional police officer in Deori, reached the spot first. “We were only 15 personnel. The crowd, which was there for the weekly bazaar, had swelled to a thousand. Our first aim was to take Usman in our custody. We managed that but were not able to take him out of the village. Then, we got information that his family members were holed up inside the house. We managed to enter the house through a staircase in the back and rescue them. By that time, Usman had been beaten up badly and was unconscious,” said Ranjan, reported Indian Express.

“The situation was highly intense. We somehow managed to stave them off. It was after the Deputy Commissioner arrived with additional forces that the mob could be dispersed,” said Barwar.

Some eyewitnesses said that the village wore a deserted look after and incident and only a few shops had opened. “The bazaar was in full swing. I was getting a shave when I heard about a stampede-like situation. I rushed to the spot on my motorcycle because I needed to know what was happening before calling the police. When I reached, I saw that Usman had already been cornered by the mob,” said Ansari, who had alerted the police about the incident happening in the village.

“In this village, he is the only one rearing cows. He had eight cows and the family would supply milk in Barwabad and the neighbouring Mandro village. Usman was first asked by the mob whether the cow belonged to him, which he admitted. They took him to the exact spot where the carcass lay and made him swear that he did not kill it. Usman did that, too. We heard that some people wanted to throw him in the fire,” said Alam, another eyewitness was quoted by Indian Express as saying.

Giridih Deputy Commissioner, Uma Shankar Singh, arrived with the CRPF forces. Singh said, “The situation escalated suddenly. The initial presence of police, although outnumbered, helped us save lives. The injured is completely out of danger. We are probing the case from all angles.”

Following the incident, Usman’s wife told the Indian Express that the cow had been ailing for a few days and she had called for a local veterinarian to treat the cow but it died. “The mob asked me the same questions they asked my husband. How could we deny that it was our cow? We told them that we did not slaughter her. But they were not ready to listen,” said Amna Khatun, Usman’s wife.

“The cow died on Saturday night. We could not get the body disposed of on Sunday because those who were to do this were busy handling another carcass in another village. Then, I told my son that the body would start rotting. On Sunday night, we dragged the carcass to an empty place. On Monday, I noticed some marks on the body and felt that it could be done by stray dogs. We were thinking about how to dispose it when the mob had reached our house and set on fire a small ration shop opened in the front portion by our son Saleem,” she said. Ansari, a watchman in the village, managed to get into the house using a staircase and rescued Amna, her sons Saleem and Alam, and Saleem’s wife.

The incident has come a few days after a 16-year-old boy named Junaid was lynched to death on board a Delhi-Mathura train. In May, an angry man lynched three Muslim cattle traders for child-lifting traders.