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Drifting Towards a Violent Society

Jacob Peenikaparambil Jacob Peenikaparambil
23 May 2022
Mob Lynching - Violence Society

It is very sad to observe that more and more people of India, the land of the apostle of peace and non-violence Mahatma Gandhi, are taking law into their hands and indulge in mob violence. It appears that mob lynching has become a daily occurrence and the rulers in particular are not serious to prevent such inhuman and cruel incidents. Often the mob lynching is based on prejudices and unverified information; fake news and hate news contribute to the increase in such incidents.

Three tragic incidents that took place in the month of May indicate how violence has seeped into the psyche of Indians. Some people who indulge in such violence believe that they are performing a sacred religious duty. Out of the three incidents two took place in Madhya Pradesh and one in Maharashtra, two of them are related to suspected cow slaughter.

The first incident took place in Seoni district of Madhya Pradesh on May 6. Two tribal men were hacked to death allegedly by Bajrang Dal members on the suspicion of slaughter of cows. As per the report in the Indian Express, SP (Seoni) Kumar Prateek said the police have not been able to ascertain if the accused are Bajrang Dal members or not. On the other hand, Tapasvi Upadhyay, the Seoni district chief of Bajrang Dal, said: “Many people are connected to our organisation and it is difficult to give a definite answer that these were our men. They must have attended events hosted by us but that does not make them members.”

As per the report on 6th May, one of the accused, Deepak Avidhya (38), introduces himself on his Facebook  account as the “Bajrang Dal Gau raksha pramukh”. He has also posted a series of warnings in Hindi: “We will not allow Seoni to become a slaughterhouse, even if we have to do a fierce campaign. Even if a brick is laid at Seoni, then the Bajrang Dal, in coordination with the entire Hindu society, will do a fierce campaign.” The family members of the other five accused also acknowledged that they are members of Bajrang Dal and all of them are school dropouts and involved in some sundry occupations to earn their livelihood.

The second incident of mob lynching also happened in Madhya Pradesh on May 13 in Alirajpur district. A mob set a mini truck on fire and threw the driver into the fire after beating him up brutally for hitting a minor girl. A video of the incident went viral on social media in which a mob could be seen beating the driver and then throwing him into the fire. According to Alirajpur Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar, “The driver Magan Singh, a resident of Jamali village of Jobat tehsil, was passing from Chhoti Poll village when he accidentally hit an eight-year-old girl, who died on the spot.”

The third incident of mob lynching took place in Raigad district of the neighbouring Maharashtra state on 6th May; but the report appeared in the Indian Express on 16th May. As per the report, a 35-year-old man, accused of stealing cattle, was beaten to death by a mob in a village in Raigad district. His two accomplices were also injured in the attack. The victim has been identified as Intzaar Ali, a resident of Thane.

Any sensitive human being should be concerned about increasing violence in society and search for its causes and think how it could be prevented. An article published in IndiaSpend by its team on 28th August 2019 throws some light on the reasons for increasing cow related violence. The article has highlighted the nature of the cow related violence and some of the causes based on a survey conducted by Common Cause, a non-profit organization and Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, a think tank, based in Delhi.

The survey report was part of the ‘Status of Policing in India Report 2019’.

As per the report, between 2012 and 2019 at least 133 cow-related attacks were reported nationwide, leading to 50 deaths and more than 290 injuries. About 98% or 130 of the crimes took place after 2014, when the BJP came to power at the Centre under the leadership of Narendra Modi.   

Another significant finding of the survey is that Muslims comprised 57% of the victims, Dalits accounted for 9% and Hindus formed 9% of those who were attacked in cow related hate violence. Among those murdered, 74% were Muslims and 20% were Hindus, including Dalits.

A shocking finding of the survey is that in 37 of the 133 cow-related hate crimes, the police filed cases against the victims of such attacks under the prevailing cattle-protection laws in the respective states. For example, in the case of lynching of Pehlu Khan of Rajasthan, the police filed a charge sheet for cow smuggling against the deceased who was lynched by a mob of self-styled gau rakshaks, who were eventually acquitted.

The most significant and shocking finding of the survey is that every third Indian police personnel think that it is “natural” or “to a large extent” or “somewhat” for a mob to punish “culprits” when there is a case of “cow slaughter”. Jharkhand had the highest percentage (66%) of police personnel who said such violence was “natural” or “large extent” or “somewhat”, followed by Madhya Pradesh (63%), Karnataka (57%) and Andhra Pradesh (52%).  If such an overwhelming number of police personnel think that mob lynching is a “natural” act for certain crimes, it is natural to assume why they would not try to prevent or act against it.  Moreover, the survey also has found that 50% of the police feel that “Muslims are prone to crime”.

One can understand from the findings of the survey that Muslims have been the main targets of the cow-related violence and the law has been used to further harass the victims rather than to protect and give justice to them, and the police have been biased against the Muslims.

In another article published in The Wire on September 7, 2019 under the title, “Why does mob lynching still continue unabated?” the author Mehtap Alam has explained some of the reasons for it. 

One of the reasons is the failure of the Parliament to enact a law to deal with the crime of lynching as per the directives given by the Supreme Court in July 2018 and the failure of the state governments to comply with an 11-point prescription of Supreme Court, which included state governments designating a nodal officer for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching. It is to be mentioned against this backdrop that in August 2019, the Rajasthan Assembly passed an anti-lynching bill with the provisions for life imprisonment and a fine ranging from Rs. 1 lakh to 5 lakhs in cases where mob violence led to a victim’s death.

Another reason pointed out by the author is that the idea of “instant justice” has become immensely popular in society. This means that society feels duty-bound to intervene in matters without even understanding the issue. “Lynching happens when a mob gets together and they feel that they have a responsibility towards society and that the police or any administrative body can’t do justice to that responsibility,” says Anuja Trehan Kapur, psychologist-cum-Supreme Court lawyer,

The third reason is the inordinate delay in settling cases due to the compressed criminal justice system and pendency of more than 4 crore cases in different courts of India. Hence people have a tendency to assume that the culprits often escape punishment and they are prone to take law into their hands.

One can notice an undeclared impunity to those who commit such crimes. BJP MP Jayant Sinha in 2018 was seen garlanding men who were released on bail in a lynching case. Most of the accused in lynching cases are not convicted. Some of the accused people in these cases are promoted in the party hierarchy and some are given tickets to fight elections to the local bodies. No action has been taken by the administration to book majority of the Dharam Sansad members who called upon the majority community to take up arms and indulge in genocide of a particular community.

The root cause of increasing violence against the minorities and weaker sections in India appears to be the result of infiltration of the majoritarian ideology into different levels of society coupled with justification of any kind of violence to achieve its goals. It has also infected the democratic institutions, bureaucracy, especially law enforcing agencies, investigation agencies and even the lower levels of judiciary.

At this crucial junction, the Opposition parties are in disarray. They are not able to come to a common platform to save the democratic institutions and to stop the slide towards dangerous polarization of Indian society due to hate speeches and incidents of mob lynching.

The recent Chintan Shivir organized by the Congress did an analysis of the current political and economic situation of the country and severely criticized the government and the ruling party for the increasing hatred and violence against the minorities and the silence of the ‘eloquent Prime Minister’. But it could not present a convincing roadmap for reinventing itself and putting the nation on the right track and thereby regain the trust and confidence of people.

What is happening in the country is diametrically opposed to the core values of Indian Constitution and the Reign of God which Jesus has envisaged. The followers of Jesus have a great responsibility to educate people of all sections, especially the youth, on the core values of the Indian Constitution. Because of their prophetic responsibility they have to speak against spreading hatred and rampant use of violence by the non-state actors and the failure of the state and its different wings to protect the fundamental rights of citizens. It is very sad to observe that some Christians are indulging in the monstrous crime of sending or forwarding hate messages against a particular religious community. They are in fact betraying Jesus. 

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