By Kumar Satyam and Shivam Kumar:
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”– Mahatma Gandhi
If we have to define democracy is in one line, democracy is “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, and it shall not perish from the Earth.”– Abraham Lincoln.
The basic and most essential feature of a democracy is to protect the life and liberty of the people, but, today, in the largest democracy of the world, due to malice politics, the life and liberty of the people are being infringed upon. A man was beaten harshly and allegedly killed by a group of people because he didn’t chant religious slogans. What is this? Where is this coming from? Does politics have a part to play in this?
This act is known as mob lynching; it involves a group of violent people attacking and lynching a person or a group of persons, amounting to a hate crime, on the lines of religious violence, caste-based discrimination and targeting of a particular community. By the above definition of mob lynching, you can understand the modus operandi of the act.
India is the largest democracy in the world and has a huge diversity of citizens. All castes and religions are found to exist in one place. Mob lynching is not only a social problem but a political one too. Due to selfish political benefits, some leaders have destructively used the diversity of India and pitted groups against one another.
Mob Lynching has not always been based on religion. For example, the 1985 batch IAS officer, originally from Andhra Pradesh, was dragged out from his official car and killed by a mob in Vaishali district of Bihar, while he was on the way to Patna.
A 51-year-old Muslim man, Mohammed Akhlaq, was attacked at his home, by a mob; he was killed on suspicions of slaughtering a cow. The attack happened on 28th September 2015 in Bisara village, near Dadri, Uttar Pradesh. Several cow vigilante attacks have been reported since 2014; these mob attacks are carried out in the name of “cow protection” and they usually target illegal cow smugglers, but even licensed cow traders are subjected to harassment.
On 27th June 2019, in Patna, a driver was beaten to death by a mob when he lost control over the vehicle and moved on the footpath. On August 4, 2019, again in Patna, 2 Sikh persons were attacked by the mob on suspicion of child theft, and one of them died.
According to a Reuters report, a total of 63 cows vigilante attacks had occurred in India between 2014 and 2017, mostly since the Modi government came to power in 2014. In June 2017, “28 Indians -24 of them Muslims were killed and 124 injured”.
Mob lynching incidents are common not only among minority groups but on police and administrative officers too. On December 3, 2018, Police inspector Subodh Kumar Singh was shot dead in the head in Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh. A female forest ranger, C. Anitha, was attacked by a mob in the state of Telangana.
In September 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that each state should have a police officer in each district, as a nodal officer, to take strict action against lynching. It also directed the Parliament to make a special law on mob lynching. The Parliament is yet to take action in furtherance.
The Rajasthan government passed its State-specific anti-mob lynching in 2019. In the case of the victim’s death, the bill provides a fine up to Rs 5 lakh and life imprisonment to convicts involved in mob lynching. TMC government in West Bengal also passed a state-specific law on the same. West Bengal (Prevention of Lynching) Bill, 2019 aims to “provide effective protection of the Constitutional rights of vulnerable persons and to prevent the lynching” of innocents. With the intent of instilling fear in the minds of perpetrators of such crimes, the new law has a provision of the maximum punishment i.e. death sentence. “If any act of mob lynching results in the death of a victim, the perpetrator shall be punished with death sentence or rigorous imprisonment for life”, states the law.
We celebrated the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatama Gandhi on 2 October this year, the man who made us understand violence from its Sanskrit root, “himsa”, meaning injury. In the midst of hyper-violence, Gandhi teaches us that the “one who practices nonviolence is blessed”. “Blessed is the man who can perceive the law of ahimsa (non-violence) in the midst of this raging fire of ‘himsa’ all around him.” We bow in reverence to such a man who led by example.
If India wants to become a progressive country, it needs a central and effective act to curtail and eradicate mob-lynching from its roots.