A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, said William Shakespeare. To paraphrase the versatile poet and playwright, lynching by any other name would be as bloody and murderous as we see it today across many States, especially in the Hindi heartland. Hence Rashtriya Swayam Sevak chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement that "Lynching is a western construct and one shouldn't use it in Indian context to defame the country” is nothing but a futile exercise to save the face of the Sangh Parivar. The RSS chief also reportedly stated that the word comes from an incident in the Bible where Jesus Christ told people to hit a woman with stones only if they had never committed any sin. This is apparently meant to obfuscate the issue. In fact, in the incident Bhagwat refers to, Jesus tries to save the woman who was at the receiving end of a mob.
If Mr Bhagwat had bothered to google or refer a dictionary to find out the meaning of the word, he could have escaped the embarrassment of being the butt of a joke. Lynching is nothing but a premeditated extrajudicial killing by a group. It is often used to characterise informal public executions by a mob in order to punish an alleged transgressor or to intimidate a group. It has nothing to do with the West or Christianity. The country is witnessing this ‘mob madness’ in the last few years when minorities and Dalits are increasingly targeted by cow vigilantes and Jai Sri Ram propagandists. Bhagwat is talking through his hat when he says that the word lynching is western. It is a well scripted plot to wriggle the Parivar out of the stigma of mob lynching.
Bhagwat’s remarks provide a glimpse into the Sangh Parivar mindset which has no empathy for the victims of ‘lynching crowds’ injected with communal poison. The RSS chief seems to be more worried about his organization losing its face than people losing their lives. Hence, he finds a way out by erroneously attributing lynching to western world, and hinting at its origin to Christianity. Instead of stopping the Sangh Parivar workers and loyalists in their tracks, he is trying to bail them out by denying their role in lynching incidents. However, Bhagwat’s ingenious way to absolve the Sangh Parivar members of the sin of lynching has few takers.
The biggest irony of today’s political discourse is that the ruling dispensation and its flag-bearers are getting away with falsehoods and misrepresentations. Those who question them are taken to task. Any dissenting note is met with false and fabricated cases. We saw it when a first information report was lodged in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur against 49 eminent personalities for alleged sedition after they wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi voicing concern over growing incidents of mob lynching. It is another matter that the case has been withdrawn in the wake of widespread condemnation of the discredited move. The nation is passing through dark days of democracy. A palpable outrage exists, but it is not enough to counter the might of the powers-that-be.
(Published on 14th October 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 42)