ive people were brutally lynched by Rainpada villagers in Dhule district of Maharashtra over suspicion that they were part of a gang of ‘child lifters’. Such mob violence is on the rise, may it be for beef or now in the name of child lifting. Outraged by the rising number of targeted lynching against the Muslims in India, thousands of people took to the streets in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, and other major cities across India for spontaneous demonstrations under the banner “Not in My Name” on June 28, 2017. But nothing has changed — everything is just same. Government is unable to protect citizens against harassment and random violence by self-proclaimed vigilante groups whose victims are mainly peculiar groups. Unless and until law does not deter them, they will not stop.
Look at the Dhule incidence, after so much pressure and noise, police arrested 23 accused in the case. The videos and photographs of the incidence are openly available; catching the culprit is not that difficult. But punishing them is not easy too. The entire Rainpada wore deserted look because all the males from the village have run away and they are hiding in a nearby forest area. These fortune-tellers cum beggars roam around the villages in search of livelihood. Sunday was a weekly market day and these nomads had come to Rainpada. While parking their vehicle, one village girl threw a stone into the vehicle. One of the deceased shouted and warned the girl. Despite this, the girl continued to throw stones and sticks. So one of the deceased shouted again and to shoo away he ran after the girl. The same girl shouted in the crowded market chor chor – thief thief! By hearing her aloud screaming, the crowd gathered and took hold of these nomads and started beating them badly. By seeing them, other people also joined and murdered them after suspecting them as child lifters. Here, I will not mention any names or further details of the girl, which can lead to many misunderstandings.
Since last four years, India is witnessing mob lynching very frequently. It is usually the ideology by which the country is governed has an impact on the contemporary socio-economic and political scenario of any country. Mass lynching has become a common phenomenon because we all know it leads to absent-minded killing of an innocent person on the basis of mere suspicion without taking any information or validation of the crime. Also our people, commoners aren’t entitled to kill each other as it is a crime. Whenever, in any democratic nation, people try to govern on masses neglecting the law and order situation, it becomes a heinous crime. A strict action against these hooligans is the sole need of the hour. Many mobs have shown to be furious depending on the subject that gets everyone riled up. In the last six months, a dozen Muslims have been lynched and many Dalits have faced brutality always with the pretext of defending “Hindu values”, which, in some interpretations, considers cows sacred.
The violence began in September 2015 when a Muslim ironsmith named Mohammad Akhlaq was brutally killed in front of his family by a mob of cow vigilantes in Dadri’s Bishara village, allegedly for storing beef in his refrigerator.
The violence reached a high point in early 2017. At least 20 “cow-terror attacks” were reported in the first six months of the year, 75 per cent more than the total number of incidents in 2016. Finally, on June 29, after Junaid’s murder, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his long silence on the subject. In a speech given at an ashram in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, he warned, “Killing of people in the name of protecting cows is unacceptable”.
Just hours after his address, another dreadful incident took place. A mob of 100 people lynched a 45-year-old Muslim trader in Ramgarh district of Jharkhand on the suspicion of carrying beef in his car. There has already been a spate of opinion pieces in the mainstream media over the murder of people by mob lynching in India. A common thread that emerges across the Right and the Left is that vigilantism and mob lynching should have no place in society. Its presence shows an inept law and order situation and prevents society from facing and handling other serious issues of development. However, going beyond the valid concern of law and order, there is also the dimension of a perceived escalation in such mob-violence over the past few years.
There are, however, certain sections within the media who deny such perception. They point out to the gruesome history of mob violence and massacres in the past, particularly prior to the current central government, to state that lynching is essentially a law and order problem. The question, therefore, hinges on looking at the trends of such mob violence and lynching in India in the recent past. In the absence of any official data on mob violence and lynching, news content could certainly serve as an important data sources with regard to such crimes. Some insightful characteristics can definitely be discerned by any such content analysis on mob violence.
Apart from the incidents considered in our analysis, there are three other prominent issues which merit an independent investigation and have not been included here as the incident count pertaining to them is too large. In addition, cases related to these issues are also often not reported. First are lynching deaths based on witch-hunting. These numbers are shocking in themselves. One report indicates that 2,097 such murders were committed between 2000 and 2012 in at least 12 states. The second type pertains to the historical issue of caste violence against Dalits. Caste atrocities often include lynching but are generally under-reported. The purpose behind these displays of violence in public is, of course, to intimidate by way of making an example. Curiously, one of the first widely reported instances of mob lynching based on bovine issues in recent times was based on a rumour of cow slaughter in 2002, where five Dalits from Haryana were lynched by a frenzied mob. The third includes lynching incidents, which have occurred during riots or have been the instigating cause of riots (for instance, in Muzzafarnagar as well as in Kokrajhar). These incidents are part of communal violence and rioting and must be considered separately.
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