Mob lynching has a psychological underpinning to it. What a person may not do at an individual level can actively give vent to his repressed emotions while being a part of the robust crowd. An individual loses control of his inhibitions when he is hooked up with a crowd, his mentality becomes that of that group. The person no longer busies himself in the thinking process, contrarily, he follows every impulse of the crowd and does so unquestioningly. Previously driven by some latent flashes of rage, a person could wreak havoc if given a chance to unleash his anger as part of an unruly mob.
Many psychologists have tried to define the anatomy of the mob psychology. One of them worth mentioning is Gustave Le Bon. He theorizes the concept in three psychological theories, “crowds exist in three stages: submergence, contagion, and suggestion.”
He adds, “In submergence, the individuals in the crowd lose their sense of individual self and personal responsibility. Contagion refers to the propensity for individuals in a crowd to unquestioningly follow the predominant ideas and emotions of the crowd. Suggestion refers to the period in which the ideas and emotions of the crowd are primarily drawn from a shared racial unconscious. This behavior comes from an archaic shared unconscious and is therefore uncivilized in nature. It is limited by the moral and cognitive abilities of the least capable members.”
Le Bon further adds, “that crowds could be a powerful force only for destruction.Additionally, Le Bon and others have indicated that crowd members feel a lessened sense of legal culpability, due to the difficulty in prosecuting individual members of a mob.”
Though in modern India the phenomenon of mob-lynching is seen as on the rise, historical evidence proves that it has been a part of human life since ages. Whether we refer to the incidents of witch burning, religious zealotry, political protests or religious gatherings.
The phenomenon, previously confined to other states of India, has surprisingly and shockingly registered its presence in the Kashmir valley. Another word has been added to the bloody dictionary of Kashmiri freedom struggle: mob lynching.
On the eve of holy night of Ramadan, when the whole valley was engulfed in a heart-warming euphoria and every being invoked God to make better the conditions of Valley, when each individual prayed for the dignity and well-being of humanity, a deputy superintendent of police, Mohammed Ayub Pandith, was lynched by an unruly mob outside the famous Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta area of Srinagar city.
Different versions of the story surfaced abruptly after the incident happened. According to the grapevine, the cop in civvies took pictures of youth that intensified their anger and they started to beat him. Another story goes like, the police officer fired at the youth when questioned about his identity.
The incident recorded a huge outrage. Political, religious, and other important leaders of Kashmir condemned the brutal act of mob-lynching. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, leader of moderate Hurriyat faction, made his resentment public on Twitter.
He tweeted, “Deeply disturbed & condemn the brutal act at Nowhatta. Mob violence & public lynching is outside the parameters of our values & religion…We cannot allow state brutality to snatch our humanity & values.”
Although many media outlets and some sections of society blamed Mirwaiz of being present in the Masjid when the incident happened, he discredited the claims altogether.
Imran Reza Ansari, Minister of Sports in the PDP-BJP led government, tweeted, “How can one Preach on the Pulpit while a fellow human is lynched to death in the compound of the same Mosque,I wonder wht (what) was being preached.”
The gruesome murder of Pandith was condemned by every leader and Omar Abdullah, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, also joined the race. He tweeted, “I am personally anguished and devastated by this tragedy. That this happened on the most auspicious night and outside Jamia Masjid is shocking,”
Another leader of the National Conference party who holds the spokesperson portfolio wrote on Facebook, “90% of these goons in Nowhatta (The same place where Pandith was murdered) are drug addicts and bloody deviants. Led by inarguably the biggest coward Kashmir has ever given birth to.”
Political analyst and senior journalist, Ahmed Ali Fayaz, visited the bereaved family next day and wrote on his Facebook timeline, “Not even the cleric-politician whose father, we are told, used to be a frequent visitor and had performed every Nikah (Muslim Marriage) in the family. It was literally ‘mourning in whispers’. May Allah be kind and merciful.”
Whatever the reason could be, this mob lynching tells explicitly that public of Kashmir harbors a deep anger and antipathy towards the state police.
The anger towards Jammu and Kashmir snowballed from the 2016 uprising and this incident is the brutal manifestation of it.
A resident of District Badgam, Asif Ali (name changed) whose father is currently serving the J&K police department recollects the tale of the horrifying night when their Santro vehicle was stopped in an area of South Kashmir in the middle of the 2016 uprising.
“As there was enough frustration and furor towards police, I hid the uniform of my Father under the backseat and requested him to take the garb of a medical worker if questioned by anyone. Around midnight, some four young boys blocked our way, one of them asked my father to lower down the side mirror of our car and asked about his reason for traveling late. This inquiry was followed by a peek into his profession. Had I not advised my father to embrace the fake identity, we would have been stripped and killed.”
Following that dreadful night, Asif straightaway went to his medical practitioner friend and made a brand new medical identity card for his father. Now, in these chaotic and unpredictable situations, his father has stopped being a formal Policewala.
The common man versus cop attitude, though not a new phenomenon, has grown to a monstrous level.
In Kashmir, protesters are giving a tough time to the policemen since a decade now. In past also, slogans addressed at J&K police such as: “1500 ti dali batta (You are given a petty sum of ₹1500 and a lunch, how come you fight with us)”, “Poundeh police-hy hy ( Police without powers, shame shame!)”, vividly reflects the bloody contention between the common man and the cops.