By Anugraha Hadke:
Ravinder Kumar, a 24 year old man was recently arrested in Delhi for his alleged involvement in the sexual assault and murder of several children. Kumar would hold odd jobs for short periods of time and abduct children between the ages of two and 12, and sexually assault them. In an interview with The Hindu, Kumar confessed that he “was drawn to children” and would often strangle them so that he could keep them quiet before he raped them. He would never stay in one place for more than a few weeks, and has claimed responsibility for the murder of at least 25-30 children, with a high chance of the list growing longer.
As part of the ongoing investigation, Kumar has been re-visiting the sites where he committed the crimes. During these visits, attempts to lynch him have been made by angry mobs. According to a recent report, a group of people, dressed as lawyers accosted Ravinder outside the courthouse and physically assaulted him. It is easy to understand the anger felt by the masses. His actions, if proven, are nothing short of horrific and deserve punishment, but ‘mob justice’ can hardly be the answer.
In a country where the judiciary forms an integral pillar that supports the society, taking matters into one’s own hands to mete out ‘justice’ is never going to be the right thing to do. Mobs are driven by a blind rage that is unable to differentiate between right and wrong, guilty and innocent. The whole idea of letting the masses take over completely fails the entire idea behind ‘justice’.
One such example can be of Dimapur. In March earlier this year, an angry mob broke into the jail and caught hold of a man who had allegedly raped a girl from a local women’s college. He was stripped, beaten, and dragged for over seven kilometres before being hanged at the town’s Clock Tower. The man was still under trial, the case was in the court, and his guilt hadn’t been proven by then.
In a similar incident, a 5 year old boy was beheaded in Assam in May. A mob assumed that this was the doings of a ‘tantric’ who had sacrificed the boy as part of a ritual. As a result, they caught hold of a man known by the child’s father, and lynched him. In this case, a formal investigation against the man hadn’t even been made.
Anger towards acts of injustice and crime is well justified and is a mark of a concerned and active people. And punishing an offender for their crime is an essential part of any society. But there has to be an order in which it is done to ensure that the punishment is proportionate to the crime committed, once it is proved that it was committed in the first place. A society cannot run on individual ideas of justice. Because there will be no limit to its extent, it will grow bigger into a twisted creature that is only driven by rage and spur-of-the-moment, thoughtless decisions.
The systemic flaws in our judiciary are at the root of this action. An inherent mistrust, stemmed from a slow and underperforming judiciary which often fails to serve out justice, leads to the masses taking the initiative of doing it themselves. Till the time the society has a legal structure they can completely rely on, ‘mob justice’ will find a way to be legitimised. And as I finish writing this, another news story of a mob thrashing a suspect accused of molestation and dousing him with inflammable material has surfaced… will justice be allowed to take its course this time?