“Please leave me. I have not done anything.” This may not be the exact quote of a person but it takes no effort to assume that anybody who has suddenly been attacked by a mob and is being beaten blue would say these words. There is nothing new about mob lynching, especially since 2014. Technically a grave criminal offence, lynching in India has a different impression altogether.
First of all, it is a way to ‘punish’ culprits of cow theft or cow trafficking. However, those who issue the verdict of punishing these offenders brutally do not really care about truth or evidence. Sometimes, a person’s caste identity is good enough reason for them to get punished and sometimes it is the person’s religion. In so many cases of lynching, ironically, India India has hardly witnessed an incident of attack on child sexual abusers or rapists or those who conduct acid attacks. Maybe the crime they committed was not as grave!
Do we still remember Pehlu Khan? If not, let’s rewind to the incident of the Alwar lynching in 2017 wherein Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer, was attacked and killed by a group of 200 cow vigilantes. The 55-year-old succumbed to the injuries while he was admitted in the hospital. In August 2019, six of the accused were acquitted and ironically, charges were framed against the deceased victim and his sons. So, Pehlu Khan was lynched and not killed!
Let us see the most recent incident of the 24-year-old Tabrez Ansari, who was tied to a pole and assaulted by a mob with sticks and iron rods. A viral video of the scene flashed across TV networks showed he was forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman” by his tormentors. This time, the allegation was of theft and it was not even proven. He was an ordinary welder who was working in Pune and was visiting his family when the incident took place on June 17 this year.
The best part is that Jharkhand Police conveniently dropped the murder charges against all the 11 accused in this case. And the reason is – there was no evidence of murder in the autopsy report and the cause of death was cardiac arrest, while the latest report clearly indicates skull injury and excessive blood in the heart chambers which eventually led the heart to stop functioning. So, who is the police trying to shield and for what good reason?
“It needs a lot of pressure to fracture a skull. But if somebody hit the skull hard, the injury can also affect the lungs and the heart. If you hit any part of the body, ultimately it leads to stress and has an effect on the lungs and the heart,” Dr Mardi (on the autopsy team) said. If so, why was the skull fracture concealed in the first post mortem report?
But wasn’t this a blatant denial of charges in an open and shut case? There were videos making rounds on social media, there were people who were present around and above all, there was the fatally injured victim. What else was required?
He died when his heart stopped. We know that is what happens to everyone who dies, so it cannot be the only cause of death. What happened to Tabrez was culpable homicide, not amounting to murder. Yes. Not amounting to murder, yet he lost his life for no apparent fault of his, or anyone else’s.
Accordingly, there must be fresh charges applicable to all the culprits and all should be convicted. But, some will argue Tabrez was a thief and his murderers have actually reformed society!
The fact is that Tabrez is not the only one to meet this fate. While statistically, it is true that cases of mob lynching occurred even before 2014, it cannot be denied that the number showed a whopping escalation in the past five years. Jharkhand is one of the states with a huge number. 2018 was the worst, with 92 cases in total.
But we are fine with it. This does not bother us anymore. We fail to address the fact that a mob does not have religion and the victim should be served with justice in any case. Be it Pehlu, be it Akhlaq or be it Tabrez, no one should be forgotten. Whenever people try to raise their voice, they are silenced with the tag of “selective outrage”. What should actual outrage be like? Perhaps something that would not question the ethics of cow vigilantes. In the name of animals, how many more stories of violence and bloodshed are waiting for us?
When will it actually be recognised as murder and be served with stringent punishment? How many more Tabrezs and Pehlus will be sacrificed in this process? Is there hope, or do we have to accept that ‘no one killed Tabrez, he was lynched’?