- They were no soldiers executed in war, civilians butchered by deadly terror groups, or rebels crushed by state power. They were the people of the world's largest democracy, who were hunted, beaten and tortured to death by vengeful, bloodthirsty crowds. Bodies desecrated, they died in extreme fear and pain, pleading innocence and begging for mercy. All for a word the Indian Penal Code (IPC) does not even recognise: 'lynching'.
- Heart-wrenching horror have gripped the nation, as Indians kill Indians in some of the most grotesque mob violence, in total disregard for the law. Horrific reports of people being tortured or dying terrible deaths are surfacing every week. Yet our leaders remain silent. Will Prime Minister Narendra Modi do anything to stop this madness?
- At Aligarh, railway police stopped a woman in burqa and were surprised to see Nazmul Hasan, a man emerging from under the veil. Hasan confessed to using the garb as a ruse "I thought no one would target a woman." The lynching of a Muslim boy on a train had put the fear of lynching in his heart.
- Lynching, as a legal term, does not exist in India, but it's seen as the extrajudicial punishment and murder of someone by a mob.
- The slaughter of cows is banned, consumption of beef restricted, in most Indian states, though millions of Muslims and Dalits depend on the meat and leather industries. Vigilante groups seizes cows from people they accuse of illegally transporting them, or sending for slaughter, have become active across the country. Most of the lynchings are being committed by them in the name of the cow.
- Lynchings is a "new phenomenon" and what makes these incidents different is its extreme violence and brutality.
- Thirty-two people have been killed in 20 cases in the past three years. Almost all victims were Muslim or Dalit; 70% were suspected of killing or smuggling cows. The accused in almost every case of killing were linked to 'gau rakshak' or cow vigilante groups. Even in cases triggered by rumours of rape or child-lifting, the victims were Muslims or Dalits.
- Law enforcers witnessed the lynchings but did not do anything (at times they collaborated); No politician visited the families of the victims or made immediate public statements; in most cases, the charges against the accused were flimsy charges and given bail. The victims (even if dead) were charged of cattle smuggling and trading.
- On June 29, 2017, PM Modi made an appeal at Ahmedabad. It came after thousands of citizens protested decrying the government's inability to protect citizens from lynchings in social media. Within hours of PM Modi's condemnation, mob India reacted by unleashing a new spate of lynchings in Jharkhand. In the week that followed, at least three more people were lynched.
- With the new issue of beef and cattle trade, lynching is becoming ubiquitous. It can happen anywhere, anytime.
- It's strange how normal people turn beasts when part of a crowd. A raging crowd can affect an individual's behaviour. It's is contagious now. A mob also provides cover for the release of deep-seated emotions: anger, fear, suspicion, resentment, frustration, prejudice, malice. Lynchings and riots do not necessarily rely on criminals.
- The ordinary citizen seems to be in the throes of an epidemic of anger: with their incomes, their quality of life, their relationships, their political leaders, the lack of jobs, healthcare, decent education and opportunities. With all the grave uncertainties of life, rage spills over into collective violence. People take the law into their own hands when 'fear' takes huge proportions, making it an issue that they feel must be dealt with instantly.
- Cow vigilante groups are a huge network of young people, who are enrolled as members, given ID cards, responsibilities, mentors to take instructions from and even work in shifts. They also get informed by ex-cow smugglers. If caught, vigilante justice usually involves some hard slaps, punches and kicks, nothing more. For the unlucky it can cost a life.
- Social media have made mobbing and lynching easier. A WhatsApp message, with pictures of dead children, had been circulating for a month.
- Two people died in the first lynching at Jadugora. Mohd Naeem, blood-soaked and pleading to villagers with folded hands to spare his life. He was a good son to his ageing parents and a good father to his children, said his family members, refusing to accept the compensation of Rs. 2 lakh offered by the district administration.
- There have been almost no convictions or punishments, even in high-profile cases, and perpetrators seem unconcerned about the consequences of their actions. Our laws are quite adequate to deal with lynchings. Murder in any form falls under Section 302 of the IPC. But there are loopholes that needs to be plugged.
- What makes this moment unique is the silence of the political leadership. PM Modi has spoken against lynchings only after about 20 mob lynchings this year. That silence has become the hallmark of almost all top NDA leaders and chief ministers of BJP states. That silence has also generated a growing belief that our leaders have no answers for the problems that face us.
- The silence from the top is juxtaposed by inflammatory speeches from below. The frenzy of hate speeches was leashed somewhat with finance minister and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley saying "their statements (were) not appreciated by the party at all".
- The Union government issued a circular, banning sale of cattle for slaughter in cattle markets. The circular was first stayed by the Madras High Court and later by the Supreme Court.
- Violence has always been an undercurrent in our society. There is a great degree of social connivance, otherwise lynchings won't happen. People are always violence-prone, selfish, looking out for their own interests. What keeps them in check is the fear of the law. The lynchings happening today are in many ways a continuation of our inability to impress the rule of law upon people. So what leaders say, and how, is very critical. The silence of leaders over lynchings gives encouragement. The more you find impartiality in law enforcement, the better are the chances of curbing violence.
It is not mere intolerance. It is the emergence and establishment of an oppressive regime that wants to do way with the minorities of India and proclaim Hindu Rashtra as conceived by the founders of RSS.
Secular and democratic forces should unite under a banner to counter this cultural intimidation. If a state fails to have power over such fundamental forces that asphyxiate the rights of the disadvantaged, it is very much a failing state.
In UP, as against 41 rapes last year, there were 179 this year. Murders went up from 101 to 240 and cases of dacoity rose from three to 20. All these are not communal crimes or ones engineered by Hindutva outfits. But it is the unleashing of Hindutva outfits that has contributed to building up this climate of fear.
As RSS pracharak, Modi propagated its cosmic theory wherein every Muslim is a traitor and a potential terrorist. Modi in his unreleased book, describes scavengers assigned role in the caste order as a job bestowed upon them by Gods. Modi, a hardcore RSS pracharak has no respect for constitution, institutions, judiciary or legislatures and possesses fascist tendencies. He has no great qualities or accomplishments of any kind but yet he was able to mesmerize people with his speeches and relentless publicity. The manner in which he collaborated 2002 Gujarat riots resulting in 2,000 Muslim deaths, large scale destruction of Muslim properties & livelihoods and displacement of lakhs of Muslims is a telling example of his hatred of Muslims. By unleashing order, that was stayed by Madras HC and SC later, banning cow slaughter, cattle trade and beef consumption, he has overnight destroyed livelihoods of millions of Muslims and Dalits throughout the country. With the senseless demonetization, Modi has destroyed livelihoods of millions of people in informal sector and agriculture. Yet he shows the whole world and make them believe that he is savior of India. During his three year rule of nation there is no area which has shown improvement and there is no accomplishment worth advertising. The deteriorating Kashmir situation and tensions with neighboring Pakistan and China are the pinnacle of his failures and maladministration. Job-less growth and growth-less jobs are the highlights of our economy today. The results of his hurried roll out of mangled GST, will surface after few months. Needless to mention that he (as Gujarat CM) was singularly responsible for stalling GST six years ago during UPA regime.