Indian mob lynches man for cutting down ‘sacred tree’

New Delhi, Jan 5 (EFE).- Hundreds of people lynched a man in India’s eastern state of Jharkhand over allegations that he had cut trees considered sacred by a local tribe, police officials told on Wednesday, weeks after the regional assembly approved a law against mob violence.

“Yesterday some 300-400 people gathered and started beating the man. When he died, they even tried to burn his body,” Shams Tabrez, the police superintendent for the Simdega district – where the crime took place – told EFE.

He added that after getting to know of the incident, “high-ranking officials rushed to the spot and extinguished the fire with the help of the fire brigade,” but the body had received 50 percent burns by then.

The man was lynched for allegedly repeatedly felling a specific tree – which has a religious significance for the Munda tribal community – to sell its wood.

Mundas are one of the 32 recognized tribes of Jharkhand.

Tabrez said that the lynched man had been accused of illegal wood-felling earlier too, in October, and spent some time in jail.

After the incident came to light, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren in a tweet urged the police to “investigate this matter by taking all legal actions.”

Indian tribes or “adivasi” (indigenous) communities constitute just around 8.6 percent of the country’s over 1.35 billion inhabitants, according to the latest 2011 census, although in Jharkhand they represent 26.2 percent of the population.

The lynching comes two weeks after the Jharkhand assembly approved a law to prevent mob violence and lynching in the state, laying down prison sentences ranging from three years to life terms. EFE


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