Hapur district court sets precedent with life term for mob lynching

Landmark ruling imposes life term on 10 accused in mob lynching case, recognising religious motive and calling for police accountability.

Published : Mar 14, 2024 15:16 IST - 5 MINS READ

Student activists stage a protest against the Hapur lynching incident at Parliament Street, in New Delhi in June 2018.

Student activists stage a protest against the Hapur lynching incident at Parliament Street, in New Delhi in June 2018. | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

Nearly six years after a horrific mob lynching in Hapur district, Uttar Pradesh (UP), a district court has delivered a significant verdict. On Tuesday, the 10 accused were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the brutal attack on Qasim (45), a cattle trader, and Samaydeen (62).

The incident, which occurred on June 18, 2018, in Uttar Pradesh’s Hapur, stemmed from unsubstantiated rumours of cow slaughter. A mob then cornered Qasim and beat him to death. A bystander, Samaydeen, who attempted to intervene, was also severely injured. Gruesome video footage of the attack emerged, sparking outrage.

Qasim, who supported himself by selling goats in nearby markets and villages, joined the growing numbers of victims of hate crimes linked to cow slaughter that began with the infamous Dadri incident in 2015, also in UP, when Mohammad Akhlaque, was lynched over false rumors of storing beef in his home.

Also Read: Interview with Jan Mohammad Saifi, younger brother of Mohammad Akhlaq.

Qasim was lynched one year after the Bharatiya Janata Party assumed power in UP. One of its election messages was to amplify support for cow protectionism and vigilantism.

Mob lynchings

The years since 2014 saw a spurt in mob lynching incidents across north India, fueled not just by accusations related to cow slaughter but also based on names or other visible signs of community borne by the victims. They have sparked widespread outrage and condemnation both domestically and internationally.

Qasim’s family denied the accusations of cow slaughter, saying they had been fabricated, and fought for justice in the courts. They have reportedly had to sell land to sustain the lengthy legal battle. It also meant missing several days of work and the loss of wages.

Qasim, a resident of Pilkhuwa in Hapur district, was chased and cornered by a mob. Samaydeen, who was on his way to collect fodder, saw the chase and tried to save Qasim but was also beaten severely by the mob that hurled communal slurs at him.

Samaydeen sustained extensive injuries, including a cracked head, fractures in both arms and a leg, injured ribs, ruptured ears, and multiple abrasions, requiring several days of hospitalisation. He survived, but Qasim succumbed to his injuries. Qasim is survived by his wife and four children.

Aftermath of the attack

The incident drew widespread criticism of the UP State police, particularly after a video surfaced showing three policemen watching as a crowd dragged Qasim’s bloodied body along the track. The police later issued an apology, claiming that the lack of an ambulance prompted them to allow Qasim’s body to be dragged over the ground.

Initial reports suggested the attack was motivated by rumours of cow slaughter but the UP police claimed the death occurred due to a scuffle over a motorbike collision. The incident sparked outrage and calls for justice.

Following Samaydeen’s appeal to the Supreme Court, the court mandated a senior IPS officer from Meerut to oversee the case investigation and record Samaydeen’s statement. The victim’s family was given police protection.

Samaydeen, pictured in July 2018, suffered fractures in both hands and right leg, and injuries near his neck after the mob lynching incident, which was driven by suspensions of cow slaughter, in New Delhi.

Samaydeen, pictured in July 2018, suffered fractures in both hands and right leg, and injuries near his neck after the mob lynching incident, which was driven by suspensions of cow slaughter, in New Delhi. | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

The court, presided over by Additional Sessions Judge Shweta Dixit, found the accused guilty under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) including murder (Section 302), attempt to murder (Section 307), promoting religious enmity (Section 153A), rioting (Sections 147 & 149), and criminal intimidation (Section 148). Each convict was also fined Rs 58,000.

The court, in its judgement, stated that the death was not an accident but a well-thought-out assault with intent to murder, as supported by the postmortem report, the medico-legal reports of the lynched Qasim and injured Samaydeen, as well as the legal confessions of the accused. The order reads, “The heinous crime is a warning for the society.”

The court has held that the lapses and lacunae in the investigation need to be inquired into and the concerned persons responsible for the investigative flaws must face the wrath of the law.

This verdict as well as the conviction under Section 153A sends a strong message against targeted hate-mongering and violence. It holds particular weight as it acknowledges the religious motive behind the attack.

Expressing satisfaction, Samaydeen’s brother Mehruddin, speaking over the telephone, emphasised the importance of the judgement as a deterrent. “We hope it sets a precedent and discourages future acts of vigilantism and mob violence,” he said.

Samaydeen’s legal team also highlighted the landmark nature of the conviction, the first under Section 302 for a mob lynching fueled by cow slaughter rumours. Soutik Banerjee, a lawyer involved in the case, told Frontline that incidents of mob lynching and vigilantism thrive when there is impunity for criminal action, which is often a result of majoritarian politics and biased policing in hate crimes.

“The Hapur case is a stark example of how the police initially coerced the complainant to try and turn this into a road rage and motorbike accident; how the false narrative helped all the accused secure bail immediately even in a heinous case such as this; and how there were no consequences for a deliberately botched investigation shielding the accused. It was only after the victims approached the Supreme Court and the court passed multiple directions that the investigation was partially brought on track as a result of the statement of the injured witness recorded before the Magistrate.”

Also Read | BSP MP Danish Ali faces death threats after Parliament abuse incident

Without the court’s intervention, this trial would never have succeeded, said Banerjee. “The truth would have been buried by the police a long time ago.”

“This is a significant precedent, and hopefully the culture of impunity with which the police operate will face strong resistance from the rule of law, which this judgement has reinforced. There is no place for majoritarian hate crimes in a constitutional democracy governed by the rule of law,” Banerjee added. On the demand from some quarters for new legislation to tackle mob lynching, Banerjee said: “Existing laws are sufficient to address such crimes. What is essential is honest law enforcement, prompt and proficient prosecution, and the elimination of political patronage for perpetrators.”

Sign in to Unlock member-only benefits!
  • Bookmark stories to read later.
  • Comment on stories to start conversations.
  • Subscribe to our newsletters.
  • Get notified about discounts and offers to our products.
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment