Union Minister Jayant Sinha was at the centre of a social media storm in July last year when images emerged of him garlanding eight men who were accused of being part of a mob that lynched a Muslim cattle trader in Hazaribagh, Jharkhand, in 2017. Sinha is the MP for Hazaribagh and is seeking re-election from the constituency.
Sinha, who expressed “regret” for the garlanding incident, revealed on Thursday that BJP members, including himself, had paid for the legal expanses of the accused in the case. Sinha made the revelation in an interview with BBC Hindi. Sinha claimed the accused men, who were released in July 2018, were innocent and of poor means.
Eleven people were convicted for the lynching incident in March 2018; the eight people who met Sinha were sentenced to life imprisonment, but their sentences were suspended by the Ranchi High Court in July that year.
Sinha claimed the BJP members' support was based on the fact that “one of the accused was a BJP activist”. Sinha claimed, “so many people, including members of the party” and himself had helped pay the legal expenses. Sinha added their “monetary help went solely” to the lawyer fighting the case.
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When asked about the outrage that erupted over his garlanding of the accused in July 2018, Sinha claimed the media had “distorted” what was a “private meeting”. Sinha reiterated the lynching accused also needed justice just like the family of Alimuddin Ansari, the victim.
Sinha also told BBC Hindi he was ready to help the family of Ansari, if they approached him.