On Lynching: Our Silence Is A Privilege We Are Adhering To At The Cost Of Innocent Lives

My words, hopefully, are loud to the ears which are ignorant or perhaps in fear,
Letting the lynchings happen,
Quietly they bear;
I am in pain, after seeing what is happening on the streets;
I wonder, will our country ever find peace?

Members of Muslim community and family members of mob lynching victims gathered during the protest against mob lynching of Muslim and Dalit at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Lynching, also known as cow vigilantism, means killing someone for an alleged offence with or without a legal trial, concerning own perceptions and interests by a local group. OK! But where did this originate from?

The 2006 village mob, the cow saviors (gau rakshaks) since 2010 or the innocent Muslim man who was brutally killed by a Hindu in 2015, all these incidences took place year after year—giving rise to a new religion of slaughtering humanity. Where did it come from? Who are these people? Mob lynchers are not the government, not the law, not the innocent people of society, they are fringe groups, who, in the name of religion, justice and equality kill innocent people.

Is this hate crime taking over us? Is the hate more precious than the lives of the innocent people? Mob lynching not just affects the people who are victimised or the people who do it; it also affects society as a whole. The children who witness their families being beaten up begin to live their lives fearfully, demotivated and hopeless, and with a hatred for the other religion. People who indulge in this heinous crime are encouraging others to do the same.

They are not only propagating religious hatred and discrimination, but they are also threatening the democratic values of our nation. The freedoms sanctioned to individuals by the Constitution are also under threat, especially for the minorities of India. It’s no longer about a particular belief.

Recently, Bharat Yadav, a lassi vendor in Mathura, was beaten to death by a group of customers, who refused to pay him after drinking the lassi. The pseudo-secularism, pelting stones on temples, raping the Maulwi’s daughter, etc., is a casual way of proving one’s superiority and doing “insaaf”.

The feeling of seeking revenge is growing among the victims, and so is the hate crime of lynching. You never know who’s going to be the next Tabrez Ansari, Shaukat Ali, Bipul Das or Asaram Meghwal. The social media and fake news seem to be adding fuel to the fire. Hateful messages travel around, causing abrupt emotions and fear among the people. Reportedly, the police have blamed social media for 16 cases of mob lynching happened in the past two months, killing 22 people.

Kerela falls under the top five states of India according to the Human Development Index. The lynching of a worker, a woman with intellectual disabilities and a trans-woman has happened here.

The Indian WhatsApp lynchings commenced in May 2017 with the killing of seven men in Jharkhand. This is a spate of mob-related violence and killings following the spread of rumors, primarily related to child-abduction and organ harvesting, via the WhatsApp message service.

Lynching is dangerous malpractice, which can cause death and serious injury. The law does not have any particular punishment for mob lynching, but we have various punishments relating to hate crimes which lead to death, under sections 153A, 153B, 505, 307, 302, 323, and 325 of the IPC.

How The Government Is Dealing With This Issue

Two high-level committees have been constituted by the central government to suggest ways and legal framework to deal with incidents of mob violence and lynching effectively. One of the committees is being headed by Union Home Minister and the other by Union Home Secretary. The move came a week after the Supreme Court asked the central government to enact a law to deal with incidents of lynching and take action on mob violence.

The collective National Campaign Against Mob Lynching has drafted a bill known as the Manav Suraksha Kanoon (MASUKA) to begin a legal conversation against Lynch mobs. Lynching by a troop of people cannot happen if the police are also determined to stop it and avoid the circumstances of lynching to happen.

In the past few years, India has witnessed a lot of communal tension due to the negligence of authorities. The MASUKA act will be a strong bill to be passed by the central government as the responsibility of such activities will be attested to the police and government, and we can expect justice in place of vague misleading statements.

In the reign of Hindutva, cows are given more significance than humans, and ignorant leaders—poised with their ‘divide and rule’ policy—have turned a blind eye to this violence.

Tabrez Ansari, a Muslim youth accused of stealing a motorcycle, was beaten up by a mob and a video showed that he was purportedly made to chant “Jai Shree Ram” and “Jai Hanuman” in the Saraikela Kharsawan district of Jharkhand. He later succumbed to the injuries.

A 24-year-old, newly married man, returning from his in-laws, has been subjected to death where his unidentified crime was stated as the reason. Three days of brutality and ignorance of his medical condition by the police has made his entire family suffer. A bike thief, according to the “Jai Shree Ram” brigade, cannot be a part of any religion; still, he was killed for not being “SONU” but “TABREZ”.

Measures To Put An End To Mob Lynching

Bringing mob lynching under legal rulings, and making judicial reforms along with a combination of police reforms should be the way forward. There needs to be harsh punishment, such as life imprisonment for mob lynching.

Will instigating against the Muslim men help us step ahead? Why is it important to prove any religion superior? Why are we killing people in the name of God and cows? Mahatma Gandhi taught us the principle of Ahimsa Parmo Dharma (non-violence is the highest moral virtue), and we are failing him now by indulging in violence against each other.

Peace and harmony are the only way for humanity to prosper in unity. Our country can move forward and reach new heights of development, without any disparity and conflict on language and religion, but we need to get rid of the hatred for the ‘other’ first.

When ‘ALI’ resides in Diwali and ‘RAM’ in ‘Ramadan’, then why are there differences between the people? The challenge lies within us, which is to restore peace in our hearts despite belonging to different religions. And lastly, we must not remain silent at times when religious hate claims innocent lives.

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